Letters - 8 May 2020

From opening our hearts to Lazarus

Open our hearts

I gained some momentary comfort from Frances Voelcker’s article (10 April) identifying opportunities within the current crisis for a new, fairer world order to materialise. The premise is that this aspiration could be facilitated by Bank of England-issued money for essential services, moving us towards the levelling potential of a Citizen’s Income.

Initially I would have applauded this sentiment. Now my hesitation has kicked in and I am aware of a more sinister set of possibilities incubating during the lockdown.

The Coronavirus Act 2020, which received royal assent on 25 March, gives cause for concern over the threat to civil rights and liberties. In my understanding, some of the more worrying examples: authorities being now allowed to detain anyone suspected of being potentially infectious; significant restrictions on inquests; no requirement for a confirmatory medical certificate for cremations; only one doctor required for a mentally ill person to be sectioned; local authorities exempted from compliance with certain sections of the 2014 Care Act. It appears that now they are allowed to avoid meeting elderly and disabled people’s assessed social care needs in full, or delay assessments of care needs. Will the measures go so far as to enable officials to take samples from us without consent, or inject us with whatever is deemed important?

While the intention of this Act is deemed to be keeping us safe, are we being moved towards a loss of civil liberties and basic rights, particularly for social care, from which we may never recover?

With an increasing amount of control exerted over our personal freedom in order to ‘protect’ us from the virus, could the Citizen’s Income become dependent on our compliance? Could the removal of such a state-generated income be used as a sanction if we disobey government-prescribed requirements, as can happen with the Universal Credit?

Let us not acquiesce. Let us inform ourselves and stay awake and take up our power to do what we can, according to our beliefs.

Let us register our fears and reach beyond them to the God within, recognising that we are having but a brief experience of being human, while acknowledging that we are also, in essence, spiritual beings. Let us open our hearts and minds to our deepest connections with each other in love and commonality, expanding our consciousness to our eternal and infinite creative potential, that knows no fear.

Let us trust in God and keep our powder dry.

Susan Holden

Until we are all safe

We are being bombarded with alleged threats to our security – China, North Korea, Iran, Russia. These are all in military terms.

What the latest pandemic has illustrated so clearly is that no one is safe until we are all safe. This applies to the threat of nuclear war as much as viruses. In 1948, in the aftermath of world war two and the beginning of the cold war and nuclear arms race, Quakers in Germany issued a statement: ‘Our faith challenges us as to whether we allow ourselves to become a divided people swept along by the stream of mistrust and fear, arrogance and hatred which produces tensions in the world; or whether by our own decision, confidence and courage, we can become a bridge linking those elements which promote truth, justice and peace.’

In July 2017, people from around the world discovered that, by working together an international treaty could be officially passed by the United Nations General Assembly – giving hope of progress towards a nuclear-free world. Today, the disappointing lack of any involvement by the nine nuclear weapons states is felt as strongly as the lack of east-west relations developing in the aftermath of the breaking of the Berlin Wall.

Now it is as urgent as ever that ways must be found to promote truth, peace and justice for all nations. The United Nations structure may be flawed in so many ways but it is the only international body we have. The challenge is to find ways of promoting truth, peace and justice for all, not place the national interest at the centre of foreign policies, and to include the nations of the international community not only those militarily powerful in the world today.

Sylvia Boyes

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