There, I’ve done it. I’ve broken my vow of silence. I vowed never to openly discuss that dirty l-word, for I don’t like angry mobs. We’re all especially snappy and out of sorts these days. Best hide my opinions behind my probably-not-medical-grade surgical mask, and carry on.
I’ve tried (and often failed) to do that – be a good citizen, respect authority, be mindful of others, take Covid-19 seriously. I mean that without sarcasm. But aside from the awful reality of the disease itself, I’ve struggled to escape from the niggling feeling that somewhere along the bizarre timeline that is 2020, I’ve been transplanted into an Orwell novel. A strange, topsy turvy dystopian plot where citizens are barred from gathering, even for public worship, in order to save lives. Yet those seeking voluntary death are exempt from a nationwide travel ban.
Unfortunately, this is no exaggeration, as Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced today:
As you can see, I do now have a few words for this.
I found the BBC headline chilling.
Comply with state strategy to avoid death-by-covid, or be punished. Seek death-by-euthanasia, and no-one will stand in your way.
Prevent people from living in an attempt to save them from a (statistically unlikely) death, yet sanction suicide?
And let’s not forget that the abortion mills are still open for business. Ending tiny human lives is still deemed an essential service.
I am not informed enough to have a strong opinion on lockdown, but I can’t help but question our priorities. For this is a problem that runs deeper than Covid-19 or the competency of our government. It’s a much more fundamental question of what we really value. What do we understand about life? What do we understand about death?
Commenting on the announcement by Hancock today, a friend posted on Twitter:
I believe he hit the nail on the head.
We (and by we I guess I mean our secularised society) cannot bear the idea that we are not masters of our own destinies. We’ve scrambled to gain some semblance of control over our mortality.
Note that control does not necessarily equate to value. Can we claim to truly value human life when travelling to a Swiss clinic to die is one of the only approved reasons to travel?
In this desperate struggle for control over our own fates, I wonder about those who are being left behind. Death (by Covid, anyway), must not touch us at any cost – except that whilst we fight to gain the upper hand over this virus, we lose the battle to less easily detected diseases. Added to the physical repercussions, a new enemy looms – poverty, for many. Purposelessness, for those without work or meaningful tasks. And perhaps the most insidious enemy of all – loneliness. These are problems that will follow us into our uncertain future.
The world has experienced much worse, it’s true. I am grateful to be alive in 2020. My country is not at war, I have more than I need. Compared to my grandfathers, one of whom lived through Cold War Germany and the other through a fascist dictatorship in Portugal, I am free.
But I can’t deny that we are now living in a society almost unrecognisable from what it was just a year ago. Some citizens go about their limited business, armed with hand sanitiser and a face covering in colour and style of their choice, even whilst cruising alone in their cars or out in the open air.
Many are cowed by fear. Is this it? Is this living?
Think Theology posted an excellent piece today by Andrew Haslam on what he deems the ‘inhumanity of lockdown’. He writes:
“We should not be surprised when a secularised state imposes a law that prevents people from worshipping together in order to ‘save lives’. The operating philosophy of our age is built upon survival, the progress of humanity, and living life to the full in the here and now. There is no weight or consideration given to the eternal purposes of mankind; only the temporal. And so, it makes sense that we would panic and scrabble to preserve and prolong life, as though survival is our greatest need.”
Haslam continues: “…But a Christian whose mind is shaped and formed by the word of God will know that survival is not our greatest need; our greatest need is salvation.”
Life and death will catch up with us all. We cannot outrun it. God, and not us, is sovereign. In rejecting Him, bent on carving out our own way, we have become fools.
If you’re interested, Haslam argues for the necessity of churches meeting together. I share his concerns – after more than six months without meeting together in person, I’m feeling the lack of church. We weren’t meant to do life alone, and we know the early apostles stressed the importance of walking out our faith in community.
My thoughts are rather disjointed at the moment but I felt I wanted to say something, even if this is more sombre than usual.
Whatever you make of lockdown, it is surely exposing some of our nation’s priorities. And it’s not pretty. At all.
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