Give us back our freedom! Life continues to be limited. The threat continues. It has been a long time already; will life ever get back to normal? We feel that our choices are very limited. Yet there are still choices. The vast majority have chosen to stick to the new rules, and Thursday evenings at 8 o’clock see an impressive number choosing to turnout throughout the land.
That reminds us of all those people who day after day have gone to work knowing that they are taking a risk, not merely of becoming ill but of dying. Sadly, some have died, not just health workers either. Bus drivers, security guards, taxi drivers and others whose jobs have exposed them to risks. The recent V E day commemorations reminded us of the price of freedom. Now, the vast majority of us are benefitting from all who have continued to work; for example in the supermarkets, as drivers, shelf-stackers, pickers and those behind the scenes in planning and administrative roles. We could list other sectors, but I hope you will bear with a repetition of last month’s thought about how as a society we should reassess the rhetoric about ‘unskilled workers’. Where would we be without them? That also has implications about their pay, which leads us into policies, politics, and what should be discussions rather than simply disagreements.
Who am I to edge towards these sort of issues? A fellow citizen who along with everybody else is grateful for the way in which society has continued to function, continued to care, continued to facilitate the basics of daily life. That includes those involved in the various levels of Government from local Councillors, through M P’s, to the Cabinet. We appreciate their lead, the toughness of some of the decisions taken and the sheer scale of the challenge facing them. In a democracy, with that hard won freedom, with a price measured in human life, there is still a need to ask questions and to consider policies that are being proposed that will affect the future of the Nation after this crisis has been worked through.
The stock answer that someone like me should be giving is to ‘trust in God’, to ‘leave it all in his hands’, especially when we have just celebrated Ascension Day. But in Luke’s account, Acts ch 1 vvs 6-11, the Disciples are asked a question ‘Why do you stand looking up towards heaven?’ This can be seen as telling them something like, ‘there is plenty enough to be getting on with here on earth’. Such as being a good Samaritan, loving our neighbours, and, as Christians sharing that quiet confidence that this life is not all that there is. Yes, trust in God, of course, but meanwhile let us do what we can in the present situation, knowing that the health of society is built up from all the seemingly insignificant acts of kindness and care of our fellow citizens, some of whom weren’t even born in this country. Even in lockdown we have those sort of freedoms, those sorts of choices.
Robert Draycott (Rev)