Reverend Steve Jones: Lessons from a year of crisis and change
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Reverend Steve Jones writes for the Journal.
Looking back at the year 2020 as it dissolves into memory and legend, there seem to be some vital societal lessons and moments of collective illumination for us all. Firstly, we should be heartened that despite the immense pressures, the infrastructure of our society did not fail.
The government’s knees did not buckle, the police managed the nation’s response professionally, and our NHS and Social Care workers showed us what superhuman effort and raw courage look like.
I know that our country has seen national crises many times before, but that has not been in most of our living memories.
Covid 19 is the crisis for our generation, and we will weather it, as our forebears did theirs. As King Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes, ‘What has been will be again … there is nothing new under the sun.’
In the first lockdown everything was suddenly upended for everyone; priorities shifted.
We quickly redefined the core essentials for our citizens as health, sufficient income to sustain you, your family and your business, and community support. We learned, again, to live in the moment. We also realized that supermarkets like Tesco, Sainsburys, and Morrisons are not just large businesses, but also emergency community supply hubs.
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While local shops are crucially important to our way of life, the giant supermarket chains in 2020 were able to move an immense volume of goods to us very quickly.
I believe that securing adequate food supplies helped to stave off a national sense of panic.
Whoever was responsible last year for logistics in those organisations should receive a knighthood. For some in 2020, it was a shock to learn that science and the government are not always able to immediately fix every calamity that befalls us.
We were acutely reminded just how fragile we are. I know that some people prayed for the first time in a long while, while others prayed for the very first time. During the year we have been vividly reminded that we are a country full of kind and compassionate people.
In a relationship you sort of know the other person loves you, even if it is not often conveyed. When it is expressed in a heartfelt way, that declaration lifts your spirits and gives you life. In 2020 we said, ‘I love you, and you matter to me’ to millions of our neighbours.
Those expressions of love will have a lasting positive effect upon the British people. On the global stage we have come to see that despite our different cultures and languages, we are all valuable human beings, with the same fears, hopes, and dreams.
I pray that we do not quickly forget how much stronger we are together. So, heading into 2021, what might our world wish to work on together, beyond the vaccine? Firstly, we could develop a commitment that every human life on the planet matters.
It is not acceptable for thousands to die from starvation or disease if we have enough food and medicines to meet every need. Ignoring human suffering seems inhuman. God calls us to love our neighbour as ourselves.
The parable of the Good Samaritan specifically teaches us that our neighbour may not look like us, believe what we do, or share our same culture. However, if we would help ourselves, then we should help them.
Secondly, we have a limited window in which to pull Planet Earth back from experiencing irreparable damage; damage that will change the way humans live not just for future generations, but also in our own lifetimes. Right now is the time for humanity to enact radical change.
I hope the United Kingdom steps into the vanguard of these two key efforts. In the vaccine, we, as a race, may have just been offered a New Dawn. I hope that we rise to greet it and embrace all that it offers.