Monday, 13 April 2020

Twenty Seven Days of Being Closed - Important or Essential?

So, it looks as though in this critical weekend we are reaching a peak and may soon see signs of things improving. This has inevitably turned thoughts to what life will look like after lockdown. It seems to me that there will be fundamental changes to the way we see the world. Our society has not experienced collective trauma like this since WW2. Our comfortable expectation of everything always being ok has been totally stripped away. If this had just been a pause for a couple of weeks perhaps we would have returned to the old ways unchanged. But with an experience that looks like lasting for months there is time for deep seated transformation to take hold.

What might happen:

We might give up on some the addictive behaviours that before this seemed so normal. You might have your own list but my hope is that there will be less gambling, less shopping, less obsession with sport and compulsion to spend so much on alcohol consumption. Now clearly I could be completely wrong and all that this time has done is convince people how important, perhaps essential, for them those elements of their life really are.

There will be less foreign travel. For some time at least different parts of the world will be experiencing  different rates of revival after the virus. So there are likely to be travel restrictions in place for many months to come. Each trip abroad will now be viewed as a chance of mixing with the wrong person in an overcrowded airport concourse and we will not want to risk travel as much as we used to. There will be fewer holidays abroad and less face to face meetings. It's time to look forward to exploring some more of the UK and our home tourist industry will need our support.

It will take years for our economy to recover. No one at this point knows the damage that has been done. There are very real fears that many small businesses, that are a huge part of our life, will have gone bust by the end of this. When will the pubs and restaurants that do survive be allowed to crowd people in again to have a bumper night's takings? How will all those forced out of work adjust to a new job market which might include doing tasks that foreign workers previously came here to take on? What taxes will the government seek to impose to draw at least some of the money they have promised in support back into the national bank account?

What's certain is that all this will actually remind us about what things really are important and essential. Part of Jesus' amazing teaching in the sermon on the mount was to advise us not to worry so much about the small stuff [see Matthew 6.25-34]. As well as never again taking for granted those small human interactions that we are all missing so much perhaps we will also have a much better understanding of what is actually important or essential.

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