As I sit here writing this it has been raining for the past 20 hours and looks set to continue. I’m reminded of Noah and the flood. I imagine him sitting at the top of the ark, in that little shed that’s always shown on top in the pictures in Children’s books. He’s sitting there, in that little shed, looking out a window at that black sky and the rain and water as far as the eye can see and I imagine him wondering where it would all end. Would he ever walk on land again?
I’m sure many of us recognise that feeling at the moment. We live in a time of uncertainty when planning for tomorrow is an act of hope and faith, never mind next week or next month.
There is an expectation, or perhaps just a hope, that when the time comes we will step into a new world. Where we will have learned lessons about how we live and will seek to incorporate them into the new world. Going back to just the old way of doing things would be a shame for so many people. Zoom and Youtube and the like have allowed so many people to access things they would never have been able to access, whether that’s church services, or shows, or lectures , or connecting with family. The pandemic has enabled me to be part of a relative’s funeral in Australia, something that would not have been possible without the changes the pandemic has enforced. When I attend evening meetings I no longer have to factor in 40 minutes travel time. I recently attended a Zoom lecture on race from a church in New York, an art class with a Museum in California, another event in Dublin and another in Leicester. None of which I would have been able to attend in person. My home church has started in person meetings again now but prior to that I was able to take in three services on a Sunday from wildly differing styles of church. All of which has been an amazing blessing for disabled people who have been asking for homeworking and better access for decades.
It would be a shame to lose this because a “majority” want to go back to how things were. The greatest shame is that we had we had to have a pandemic where nearly 130,000 people died in this country alone to learn how to use technology positively to enhance lives.
Tim Berners Lee, one of the fathers of the internet, said “The web is more a social creation than a technical one. I designed it for a social effect – to help people work together – and not as a technical toy. “
If you read about Berners Lee and his fellow founding fathers of the internet they were all looking at the social benefits, at connecting people, at building community and at sharing knowledge. This sad pandemic has come closer to making that happen than anything else in the preceding 25 years.
It is an unfortunate truth of the world that change comes through loss and tragedy. Whether it’s the world after the flood, The United Nations after World War Two, the Nobel Prize after the profiting from arms sales or whether it is individuals spurred on by the suffering they see around them.
If anything good could be hoped for post pandemic it is a greater sense of community and the idea that “we who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves”. (Romans 15:1) because if community is about anything, it is about being willing to bear your brother’s burden.