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June 15, 2020

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens..." Ecclesiastes 3. 1

 

Interesting what it takes to sow an idea. After being kicked around in the long grass for long enough, the news is full of whether the time is right to reduce social distancing from two to one metre. It reflects an even more fundamental question, whether poverty is about to overtake coronavirus as the greater threat to social well-being?

 

The talk in schools is all about blended learning. But some are of the view that, because the vast majority of children do not develop serious reactions to C19, they should be encouraged to return to full-time education as soon as possible. Teachers might need to be equipped with PPE and the issue of what happens when our darling "super-spreaders" return home needs further thought. Yet the counter-risk of depriving a generation of children the education they need to get started in adult life, surely justifies some mental gymnastics?

 

A similar dilemma now applies throughout society. We need to get on with life and, because we and the world cannot sustain another lock-down, contingency planning must begin in earnest. The threat of successive and possibly worse viruses are part of the "new normal". But there are pre-emptive measures we can take... 

 

It appears that some, at least, of the recent crop of new diseases have emanated from markets where animals are traded next to food. These must be closed down or the societies which tolerate them should be isolated (ie ostracised!). Because poverty increases vulnerability, it is time that, alongside a national minimum wage, we conceive an international maximum wage. The idea here is to identify a sustainable share of the world's resources for each person, so that anyone taking more knows that they are depriving someone else. In a democracy such a cap cannot be enforced but knowledge at least gives people the option to do the right thing.

 

We are caught in a global pandemic, which requires a global response. That will include a fairer distribution of the world's resources of course, it will also require working together to an unprecedented degree. Here's where the great world faiths come in... We already have the basic infrastructure and our convictions transcend borders and, with some notorious exceptions, class and colour too.

 

As Christians it is our conviction that Jesus came to redeem the whole of creation: liberating us from sin and preparing the way for the renewal of the whole created order. Paul famously hints at this in his remark that " the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time..." (Romans 8. 22). This is a crucial moment in history. Somebody will surely step into the vacuum to provide the leadership we need. The Holy Spirit is already at work. Will the church in this generation listen and respond? Will the church you and I belong to show the way?

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