It seems that in times of greater Melbourne Australia’s period of isolation as we live through a second wave of COVID 19 infections, it has become fashionable to ‘kick-a-Vic!” Yes, while we all laugh at being (affectionately) called ‘Mexicans’, I am bemused, astounded and in the end, disappointed with another round of rhetoric being thrown our way on account of a most unfortunate spike in numbers of infections here.
So during this past week, I read with much interest some reactions to all of this. In their ‘Age’ newspaper article on Tuesday 14th July, journalists Michael Fowler and Benjamin Preiss interviewed four out of the five living past Premiers of Victoria. All four of these gentlemen warned that anti-Victorian sentiment has reached damaging levels as they ‘call for an end to the state-baiting invective across the borders…” They have also put aside political differences in defense of ‘our beleaguered state’ with these words;
“We don’t want to see US-style division where some states and areas are blamed.” Steve Bracks-Labour.
“There’s this quirky… but entrenched view that it’s OK to ‘kick a Vic’.” Ted Baillieu- Liberal.
“Parochialism and chest beating won’t stop the virus.” John Brumby-Labour.
“I say to them: There but for the grace of God, go you.” Jeff Kennett-Liberal.
In fact, with some of the wisest words I’ve heard for a long time from politicians – past or present – Steve Bracks called on all Australians to ‘heed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s message that we are all Melbournians now…’ And it was Jeff Kennett, former Premier with a particularly hard-nosed and fierce reputation as well as tough policy maker who is widely remembered for his brutal cuts to education and welfare, whose comment caught my eye most.
In post-political life, Jeff Kennett is now kindly regarded for more humane achievements such as ‘Beyond Blue’. And in even more recent times, he has co-operated fully and ‘a-politically’ with Julia Gillard as they have worked to advance and further developed this wonderful organization together.
So I looked again at Mr Kennett’s words and have come to appreciate the bigger picture these have painted. And where else could they take me in God’s Word other than to Paul’s epistle to the Galatian church;
“For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus… There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you (we) are all One in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26 and 28.”
So, I plead once more for all of us, everywhere to look past party politics, ethnicity, gender difference, power, status or geographical location as we lift up all people across our nation – and the world before God in this time of need. We are all human and no one is immune from the virulence of this pandemic. Remember that COVID 19 is no respecter of persons, positions or locations and it is waiting to strike wherever and whenever it can.
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.