One thing that the current situation has given some of us is time and space we lacked. Conscious as I am of those who have less of either, I haven’t wanted to blog on it. It’s all too easy to sit in a comfortable home with space, and to have time to think, and forget those who have neither and yet without whom we’d be worse off. We get pretty regular deliveries, partly because of my book-buying habit, but also other things because it’s easier than going to supermarkets, and I am struck by the quiet heroism of those who drive the white vans than keep me supplied. We used to do a good deal of clapping for NHS workers, but I sometimes feel I’d like to applaud the van drivers and the shop assistants who, literally, keep us supplied with our daily wants.
None of us has any idea when or how this will end. But if at the end of it we simply have the old normal back, I am not sure that would be progress. I’m no economist, but I can’t see how it can be right for those working in Amazon warehouses to be on low wages when Jeff Bezos is the world’s richest man. Even before the crisis it was clear that something had gone wrong with our economic and social system, and I hope we might be able to do somethings better after this – but the forces to resist it are strong ones.
AATW does not major on the climate change crisis, and even for those who, like me, think there is a crisis, some of the activities of the soi-disant “Extinction Rebellion” seem counter-productive; but that should not blind us to what is going on. We were given stewardship over the earth by God, not ownership. Pope Francis has written eloquently on this in Laudato Si, and if you take the trouble to read it, it’s pretty sensible stuff. We can’t just continue to “take” and give nothing back.
One effect of the crisis has been fewer cars on the road and fewer journeys. My other half has been working mostly from home for the last six months with no reduction on productivity, indeed quite the opposite. I know others in the same place, and life-work balance has, for some, improved. We don’t live to work, we work to live, but too often the economic system treats us as instruments not individuals. This is our modern version of what Jesus told the Pharisees about the Sabbath – and if we can claw back time and space it would be a good thing.
There are complex reasons why in the West we have a decline in births, and abortion and contraception are only two of them. We don’t have a culture of life, and one reason for that it that couples so often need two incomes to manage that having children, even for those open to it, can become a problem. How on earth did we get to this point? What is wrong with us? Again, complex answers, but it seems to me to boil down to our society forgetting why we are here. Secular society has no satisfactory answer to that fundamental question. Christianity does.
More time in prayer, more time with God, creating the silence so he can fill it, and above all, being open to his will. If we can use this crisis to do those sort of things, then other things will change too – us most of all.