I don’t usually get involved in making political – and public – comments about governments and the current state of play, but two events in the last two days across our two most populous states in Australia (Vic and NSW), have catapulted me into offering this plea. The first was a Facebook comment (c.21st June) that lambasted the Victorian Premier for re-instating some limits on family and social gatherings.
Premier Andrews did this due to a worrying spike in COVID 19 cases, which seem to have occurred due to family transition. The post accused the premier of using the need for further restrictions as a ‘cover-up’ for some poor behaviour among a small number of members of the state’s governing party.
The premier immediately called out the behaviour, sacked the ringleader as the others resigned, but in a climate of two-party government adversarialism, the arguments and nit-picking goes on. Not for one moment would I accept or condone such poor behaviour, but please people, let’s stay focused on the big picture of all state and federal leaders working together to take our nation through this unprecedented time of crisis in health, people care and economics.
The other event, of which I was not unaware, but when presented so thoroughly and forensically on the ABC TV ‘Four Corners’ program on 22nd June, saddened me even more. This was the tragic story of the many COVID 19 deaths among older people in two Sydney nursing homes. I understand and empathize completely with the families in their losses, and with them, remain perplexed and extremely disappointed at the lack of communication and explanation they were forced to bear in this awful time.
I hope with them, that when we come through the pandemic crisis, an independent, thorough and transparent inquiry will be held through which grieving families may receive comfort with the knowledge that in possible future events such as this, things will be handled better. But this is not yet. For now, we must keep up our prayer-support of health and support people as they work at the frontlines of health clinics, hospitals, nursing homes and testing stations.
So why have I picked up on these events in particular? The answer is that regardless of which state of our nation in which we are situated, and regardless of where we are in the world, we are all in this together. Yes, the phrase all in this together has probably been somewhat overused recently, but it simply remains the case.
We ARE all in this together and it behoves each and every one of us to concentrate on the big picture of coming together in order to progress through the pandemic and to do our bit (such as working from home where possible, maintaining social distancing and hand hygiene) towards getting through it. And regardless of which ideology drives our governments, they all need our support and our prayers as together, they grapple with the best ways to lead us through.
Let me remind you that we are privileged to elect our governments; federal, state and local. Whatever their political persuasion and once in power, they all need our ongoing and informed support. In the letter to his apostolic assistant Titus, Paul reminds readers of our responsibilities as citizens;
“Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone” (Titus 3:1-2. NLT)
Paul reminds us of our obligation to accept civil authorities (today, of elected representatives) and of our need to follow directions of our elected leaders, but always under higher allegiance to God. This includes involvement in all sorts of civil duties. Our attitudes and actions must not be malicious or contentious but rather gentle, humble and fully considerate of all people. And this is not to say that, for purposes of honesty, openness, transparency and discretion, we can’t question governments of the day.
A good part of my plea is to do so in an informed way. We are blessed to be living in an open and democratic society; one that thrives on good, sound, honest and informed debate. And for this, we also need to be well informed and both thoroughly supportive and appreciative of the work of well-educated, likewise well-informed and good quality reporters and journalists.
So today, my plea and my prayer remains that we keep on working our way through this unprecedented time of pandemic – TOGETHER! Let us take Paul’s words to Titus into our hearts too, as we work to support our governments’ best efforts in leading us through these uncertain days. Let’s not lose sight of the big picture of state/federal governmental co-operation that is needed today.
Let’s not get distracted by poor party-political behaviour and let’s also give governments time to make proper inquiries into events both tragic and unheralded in these times. Let’s keep all members of government both ‘front and centre’ of our prayers from hereon, remembering that they too exist and operate under God. (Matthew 22:21).
Glynis Dickins has ministered in churches across the north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Living through isolation with her husband Richard, she spends time reading, writing, knitting and walking their much loved chocolate lab x pointer doggie, Boomer.