As I spoke to my mother in the US, she asked whether we have protesters swamping the halls of government to demand a release from our lockdown. I said, “Of course, not.” I know people are fed up. I know the papers say some people are going back to work, but there are no crowds swarming around Parliament Square or the Senedd demanding we are let back to work—though each day we hear more people are driving or on public transport.
Instead of protests. we do seem to have people reporting others who appear to flaunting the rules: the nurse whose tyres were slashed because her neighbours didn’t realise she was a nurse; the Job Centre worker who had the police show up at her door; the angry walker who confronts a group of young men playing football in the park; the shoppers who accuse the mother of a large family of hoarding.
When I encounter someone who walks or cycles too close to me, I am frustrated and frightened, but I haven’t yet shouted at them. I wonder about this. Should I confront the people walking the wrong way around Roath Park? I haven’t, but I have heard someone else do it. (And I was glad they did.)
Still I wonder about policing other people. Is it my job, your job, to challenge the person who seems to be breaking the ruleS? Is it my job to judge them or inflict a “punishment”?
We like to speak about the wonderful side of community this lockdown has created between us. When a six year old can’t have a birthday party, our hearts warm seeing footage of a whole street coming out to clap and sing for her. When Captain Tom walks his laps, we are joyful and we give to the NHS. (For which I am grateful, but I am also angry because our government should properly funded our health service.) There are lots of examples of community spirt and caring, which we hope will continue following the pandemic.
But what is our responsibility toward our neighbour? To judge, to punish or to love? Just before this started a television presenter committed suicide, partly, I guess because she felt judged. In response to her death the hashtag, “Be Kind” became popular. Where is our kindness in Covid 19 judgement?
I have long told my children to simply be kind to other people. I’m sure they grew tired of hearing me say it in their teenage years. It was my attempt to interpret Jesus’ command, “Love your neighbour as yourself” in a pre-teen and teen Florida life. In the face of bullying and rudeness and cliques it seemed to me kindness would go a long way—hard as it was to be kind some days. I’m sure my girls thought I was naive then, but I still think being kind is essential. Though I might want to shout at other people for flaunting the rules, I don’t know their circumstances. I have no idea of their needs and understanding. Maybe they can’t read the signs in English and Welsh around the lake. So I only complain in my head. In my practice, I try to be kind in my encounters and, more often than last week, in my head