If, as the tagline of this blog suggests, life is a story, then this is quite some chapter.
Life is nothing like it was 6 weeks ago. Understatement. Life is so far beyond what anybody could have predicted that it’s almost surreal. There are hints of former social norms, but almost no aspect of life has been left unscathed. And the scars will run deep.
Amid the stoicism, community spirit and appreciation for simplicity, slowness and the things that really matter, there is a more sinister culture emerging; one built on fear, observation, state control, peer pressure and a lack of freedom and understanding. To pen the obvious, those are the key components of some of the best-selling dystopian novels.
I feel judged if I accidentally step anywhere near another human outside my household on our one walk per day, judged when I don’t participate in the Thursday night clap and judged for even thinking let alone speaking the words that lockdown should lift and we should continue with life, albeit with some common sense adjustments.
This life is not biblical. There are certainly biblical elements such as slowness and reflection that have been reintroduced to culture as a result of it, but it is not life to the full, in community, with hospitality and without fear.
Polls say that lockdown has become the ‘popular’ choice, but many of those who believe it is for the good are missing huge chunks of data, choosing a short term solution with severe long term consequences – discounting the impact on mental health and the economy for generations to come at the very least – and most worrying for me, choosing fear over faith.
There are many people very close to me who fall into extremely vulnerable categories as well as family who work on the ‘frontline’ in the NHS (which has become an idol for worship in itself; a whole other subject). Believing that this way of life is not for the best does not put aside my desire to protect them or anyone else. But this is only protecting them from a virus with a very (very) low mortality rate, while simultaneously robbing them of true life.
Perhaps one day, our world will return to a place without screens (the non-digital kind; also another subject) separating us from our fellow humans, without us having to abstain from physical touch or even proximity and without state imposed controls on our freedoms, hopes and dreams.
But my biggest concern is that if and when that day comes, the culture of fear will be so embedded that society won’t know how to break free, find deep joy or learn to risk again; to know that every day presents its own challenges and dangers but ultimately, life is there to be lived and we trust in our Creator for the rest.
My continued prayer is that culture will shift again and recognise the cloud of fear it is living under. May the community, slowness and simplicity live on, but in a world and culture that is worth living in.