My son, Harry, was looking at John Masfield’s iconic poem “Sea Fever” as part of his school work this week and I was briefly amused at how fitting it seemed for this week as thousands flocked to the beach leaving a feast for the gulls.
There have been outcries of indignation over how it’s going to cause a second Covid spike and fingers of blame pointing in all directions but I’ve not seen any attempt to understand it.
Psychologically disturbed, especially as a result of being confined or imprisoned. That’s how my dictionary defines stir-crazy. Extended confinement, such as lockdown, can cause people to act irresponsibly once they are less restricted. And people have a tendency to interpret even the clearest of instructions in the most beneficial way. If someone says “stay 2 meters apart but if you can’t stay at least one meter apart” many people will interpret that as “try and stay 1 meter apart.” in their desperation to get out and be around new faces. People are desperate to get out. Lockdown has been much like being in solitary in a very nice prison. You could have one hour a day in the exercise yard but that was it. If you were with family then months of 24/7 in their company probably strained a lot of relationships. If you were living alone it was probably worse.
Then the prison gates are thrown open and you’re told you are free. You don’t necessarily hear the restrictions on your freedom, you just see those wide open spaces and all the new faces to talk to and you’re off, like a greyhound out of a trap.
It’s important to understand why people behave the way they do and to recognise that understanding doesn’t have to mean condoning. I am disappointed personally in the people who have rushed to the beach in a bacchanalian frenzy but I understand why they did. I have chosen to wear a mask when out, restrict my movements to some local exercise and shopping and behave in a manner I feel is in my family’s best interests.
The Apostle Paul spent around 2.5 years in prison and around another 2 years under house arrest. He has provided us with a good role model for how to deal with such things. He spent his time writing of his experiences and sharing the wisdom of his experience with emerging churches. He learnt to view it as another opportunity to serve God.
It is sad that, if there is a second spike of Covid 19, it may be down to these moments of stir-crazy behaviour but it is what it is. We do our best and live in hope in Jesus Christ.
As Billy Pilgrim says “So it goes!”