So I trust, too

My friend Ros sent me the verse above during a difficult time. I come back to it frequently.

I have made no secret that I have found myself politically homeless during the pandemic, and have been disappointed and disgusted with an organized left who have no acknowledgement of competing harms. Privileged middle class academics who have constructed risk purely in terms of them and their families, who have not addressed how lockdown exacerbated abuse, inequalities, mental health, the warehousing of our elderly, the loss of independence for those with learning disabilities.

I am still shocked that criminologists and sociologists have not addressed the FPNs issued under coronavirus law and sentenced via Single Justice Procedure. I am astonished that those with ‘anti racist’ in their bio have not addressed the racism of red lists and border closures. The hypocrisy and selfishness of so many, who are more than happy to stay on zoom whilst transferring their risk to the working class (my privilege in staying at home meant an intensified risk to other workers) will not be forgotten.

Over the last 18 months I had my values reaffirmed. I will always think of the poor child in an abusive home like I was. I will always think of the most marginalized who are disproportionately regulated by draconian authoritarian powers. I am angry to see the weaponization of disability and vulnerability, and to see those with no experience of being poor making decisions that are great for those in large spacious homes, but hell on earth for the family in a tower block.

And regardless of people’s opinions, I am angry and saddened that people allowed activist groups to flatten any genuine debate and nuance with slurs and coordinated harassment campaigns. That should concern every decent person who appreciates democracy.

Yet my faith is stronger than ever. I know that people need people, that our connections are integral to our very existence. I am grateful and blessed to have my family and friends and a wonderful community who I can serve.

Today marked the start of my 4th and final week of annual leave. I spent it in Chester with my friend Lucy, someone I admire deeply professionally and personally. Lucy’s scholarship and leading work in disaster planning and disaster management is helping me to bridge the gap between criminology and theology and identify what is missing.

There is too little grace and too much desperation for huge research grants, impacts case studies and power. I will be very glad to see some celebrity academics go back to their day jobs once this is over. There is too much focus on modelling and too little concern for how the most vulnerable experience restrictions.

I recently blogged ‘Let Go, and Let God’ about Lammas/Lammastide, and today, as we entered Chester Cathedral today, I felt that comforting feeling washing over me, of being small, of being tiny and insignificant.

I am a tiny dot, a speck of dust on the earth’s surface, and all I can do is love.

It has been hard to watch such little resistance from the church to the harms of lockdown, even an acknowledgement of the critiques of the policing of a public health crisis and how the most marginalized how been impacted the most by the virus itself and the measures to control it.

But in the silence of the church, the love of communities raged on. Love and community aid are all we have. We must stay connected and we must never allow other human beings to be reduced in value to someone who delivers our deliveroo order and someone who suffers heightened risk in a warehouse to get our Amazon parcel delivered.

I wrote on my Post about Reconciliation and Lent that: ““Lent is a slow turning ourselves towards God. It is the season of Lent; a reckoning of how we see the world afresh through the lens of the cross“.

As we start to head towards advent, let us be guided by the birth of love and our salvation. Let us find our way to a new hope and to the reckless relentless love that is the only thing that can save us. Let us prioritize mutual aid over squirreling ourselves away, and let us acknowledge the suffering of others that is different from the suffering we experience. Let us recognize privilege and always think of those with the least.

It is shameful that we have constructed human beings as diseased bodies, that we have allowed the advocates of closed borders with racist ‘red country’ quarantine laws to tweet about the dangers of ‘leaky borders’ and bodies of contagion. Throughout history, racist public heath policy has utilized the idea of the diseased foreigner who presents a danger to the death of a nation. Here in ‘The Foreignness of Germs: The Persistent Association of Immigrants and Disease in American Society’ we can see this.

And yet we are told that Matthew 26.40 “The King will reply, ‘ I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’”. We are called to welcome the stranger.

I pray that the crisis in Afghanistan will make people reassess their priorities and realize that there are many issues we need to focus on, we cannot be blinkered.

[Chester Cathedral, 23rd August 2021]

Gemma x