Prior to the current virus situation, there were clear signs on social media platforms and elsewhere that people were prepared to vice unkind and often extreme opinions. The pandemic allowed the mass media to engage in fear-mongering which, along with constant government briefings, have served to put us in fear of one another.
Now another danger is emerging in what will soon be a post-vaccine society – a great divide between those vaccinated and those not so. I was disturbed yesterday to receive a survey from British Cycling which asked about future major sporting events and included the question whether I would be more likely to attend if there was an area set aside specifically for vaccinated people. The talk of vaccine certificate or passports will create yet another divide in society, where the un-vaccinated will be treated like the lepers in the time of Christ – cast out from their families, communities, unable to touch or hug another human being and reliant on the generosity of those who provided them with food and essentials.
Jesus himself was cast out when he touched a leper.
We have already seen unrest in Bristol and organisations representing the police have indicated the possibility that unrest will grow throughout the country, just as pubs re-open and people start to release their frustrations at being effectively locked down for more than a year.
What we need now, more than ever, is kindness. I would use the term ‘love’ but in the English language (unlike the Greek) it not only fails to convey its true meaning, it has been hijacked and become almost meaningless.
Kindness on the other hand suggests a positive act, of being kind to another person – the fruit of real love if you like. I’m not just talking about the much-used phrase ‘random act of kindness’, though there is nothing wrong with that, but being kind in every thought, word and deed in every situation that we face. That is not easy. But then Jesus commanded us to love our enemy and that’s not easy – just think of the last time another driver cut you up on the road!
Jesus left us with two simple commandments: to love God and to love your neighbour. We can do this simply by being kind, a message that governments, mass media, social media and we as individuals should heed and put into action.