A message from APF Chair Sue Claydon
At the start of this year none of us could imagine the world we are in today (I am writing on 26/3/20). A week ago I wrote: ‘Governments will be re-evaluating as well, once the crisis is over. Will the citizens of all countries challenge the way governments spend money, and shift to priorities that reflect human need and not greed?’
So, what are my thoughts today?
I am still in Kenya and have been watching this pandemic roll across East Africa. Covid-19 cases were all originally coming in with people returning from overseas. Measures were put in place that you will all know from your own communities: schools and universities closing, promoting hand-washing, etc. These have escalated, and now there are no international flights (I am on a ‘ghost flight’ with BA tonight, which means it must land with no one but crew on board). Limiting ‘social contact’ in an African community is almost impossible, but all markets have been closed in an attempt. We are all aware of the hardships those in our own communities are suffering economically. Here, where huge numbers of the population live day-to-day, the effect will be catastrophic. If our highly developed health services cannot cope, how will the limited facilities in rural and slum areas manage? On top of this is the underlying fear of civil unrest when people cannot get their daily needs.
The one thing about this virus is that it knows no boundaries – geographic, class or wealth. In the next edition of TAP we are looking at the links between the environmental crisis and militarism. Comparisons are being made on many fronts at the moment of the availability of bombs to that of ventilators. All these issues are linked.
I want to share two letters I received today as we reflect on how this virus connects us to our friends and families around the world;
An extract from a letter to APF members in New Zealand by Jonathan Hartfield (Chair APF New Zealand and APF Trustee);
So here we are as a nation entering a wilderness time which will test our way of life and reveal what is of real importance to us.
Although the Share Markets collapsed at the first whiff of the desert breeze, in contrast our Churches began to develop plans for sustaining and caring for their communities. The consumer ethic that is destroying so much of our planet is in abeyance, and although our supermarket behaviour is revealing the selfish individualism of some people, we are spending up on toilet rolls and rice, and presumably spending less on Lotto, alcohol and other non-essentials.
Governments are also spending differently and more positively, and much more is being spent on the population as a whole.
It is noticeable that armaments are of no use in the present situation. The civilian skills of our armed forces may prove very useful over the next few months, but their weapons are of no help at all.
So, this virus drives us into a wilderness experience which we do not want, an experience that will change and test us all. We may find it a difficult and frightening journey as we discover how we adapt to it, how we relate to other people in these difficult circumstances, and the grief It may bring us. The desert is a place where our priorities in life are tested, so it is also a place for growth and learning. The wilderness gives God an opportunity to meet us in a new way.
From Rev. Bob Davidson, Chair Episcopal Peace Fellowship (extract)
During times of national and global crisis, the Episcopal Peace Fellowship has maintained a vital and indispensable voice that addresses many of the root causes of inequities and imbalances regarding who is vulnerable, who has access and who is being marginalized. While COVID-19 reinforces the truth that, “Death is the Great Equalizer,” this pandemic exposes the structural disparities and racism that cry out for voices of PEACE and JUSTICE.
During the COVID-19 pandemic the Episcopal Peace Fellowship is working to combat the stigmatizing of communities of Asian descent by proclaiming the respect and dignity of all human beings. EPF is addressing gun violence prevention as the sale and possession of firearms escalates in the illusion of self-protection. EPF is speaking out about historic shutdowns and occupation without proper access to health care services in Palestine and indigenous communities. EPF carries on our decades- long opposition to capital punishment and the disproportionate risk to those incarcerated in correctional settings.
And lastly, I want to give you this comment from my youngest niece as she had to travel home from study in New Zealand;
‘The world is changing and we’re the ones who get to decide what it changes into.’
That should certainly give us all something to think about over these next few months.