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Today (Thursday 9th July 2020) marks the beginning of another period of shut down, or return to Level 3 restrictions for the population of greater Melbourne (Australia) and the Mitchell Shire (a local government area which stretches north of Melbourne up the Hume Highway). Once again, we are being directed to stay home, only to leave our houses for exercise, essential food shopping and medical appointments.
Likewise, no visiting to or from family is permitted other than for care giving. On Wednesday 8th July, ‘The Age’ journalists Aisha Dow and Melissa Cunningham reported that 772 active cases of Coronovirus infections have been recorded throughout Victoria. Indeed, they quote University of Sydney infectious diseases expert Professor Robert Booy whose words should be sounding the alarm everywhere;
“The rest of the country has been put on notice… no state should gloat and say we have done better than Victoria. It only takes a handful of people to break the control of this virus…”
Professor Booy blamed the dangerous surge of cases in Victoria on a “disturbing level of complacency…” Without immediate intervention from authorities, Professor Booy forecast cases would have jumped to 3,000 per day by the end of the month, before escalating to more than 50,000 per day within a matter of weeks.
How and why has this happened? Dr Norman Swan observed our situation to have come about by ‘sheer bad luck.’ But once again, I am appalled as the blame game continues and the vitriol ramps up everywhere, especially across social media. I continue to be disappointed in rising numbers of ‘hoaxers’ and the vehemence by which these people attack government and health authorities.
So once again I am pleading with people everywhere to stop, take a breath, consider the bigger picture, and realize that we must come together in order to control the spread of this most virulent infection. Yes, it’s a bit of ‘déjà-vu’ or ‘Groundhog Day’ as we ‘hunker down’ again at home for the next six weeks or so. But criticism and negativity are not going to help see us through this time.
Then, from out of the looming darkness, came the following Facebook message like a ray of sunlight bursting through the gloom to help us get up and going;
“Hi Friends, I manage the ‘Love your Neighbour SA’ page. I wanted to reach out to you all from across the border to say we are so deeply sorry to hear many of you will be back in lockdown by tomorrow (Wednesday) night. We’re thinking of you and I want to encourage you to look out for each other as you did so well back in March/April when this COVID 19 crisis first hit us. Let it not be a crisis of neighbourly love, support and hospitality. You can do this and this time, you’ve had practice. Look out for the vulnerable, be safe and don’t forget one another. I can’t imagine what you are going through but there will be an end. We look forward to the day when the borders open up again and we can see the loved ones we’ve been separated from face to face. Take care.” Mark Riessen.
Mark has continued on to create ‘Melbourne: COVID 19 Inspired Local Connections,’ beginning with another inspirational message of love and support:
“We’re creating this thread for people to post messages of solidarity for our Victorian friends during this difficult time of lock down. May you feel loved and encouraged. We’re in this together. Stay safe. We’ll get through this.”
Under these words, displayed in large letters across a coloured banner is the message “LOVE FROM ACROSS THE BORDER” Messages of hope, encouragement and solidarity. Into this post, messages have been pouring in. And for me, several of these have made their way across our continent from family members in WA.
Thanks Mark, you are an absolute inspiration and I am feeling better about life already. In a few short words, such is the power and potential of social media platforms to lift each other’s spirits up. So, let’s utilize these in love, support and solidarity of each other rather than tearing authorities and others down. Let’s remember and practice Paul’s words in his letter to the church in Thessalonika;
“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as (those of) you are already doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
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.