How can we turn the tables on the evil of Covid-19?

13 May 2020
Comments 15
13 May 2020, Comments 15

Andy Atkins, A Rocha UK CEO, comments on the unique opportunity approaching.
This is a tumultuous time few of us would have predicted six months ago. The world economy is in turmoil not because of international armed conflict, a trade war, an oil-price rise or a financial crash, but a microscopic organism, the coronavirus. As a result, it is also a period of great anxiety for many readers, serious hardship for some and deep mourning for any who have lost family members or friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. 

Yet, in the midst of the current darkness there are some chinks of light.

We Christians, who care for creation, must hold both terrible and good before God. Many people are experiencing a sense of neighbourly care and community, that they have not known previously. A generation who have never given a thought to God’s book of ‘works’ in nature, are amazed at the birdsong – now they can hear it above our usual motor traffic. Urban air pollution, which in a normal year kills 40,000 people in the UK alone, has plummeted, making the basic act of breathing much easier for hundreds of thousands of people.

While some will say ‘this is no time to talk about the environment’ others are waking up to its importance for them individually like never before. Scientists too are making the connection between environmental and public health at big picture level: they warn that pandemics, caused by pathogens ‘jumping’ from animals to humans (believed to be the origin of Covid-19 itself) will increase in frequency if we continue to destroy wild animal habitat.

While Covid-19 has postponed COP26 it has not cancelled the existential threat of catastrophic climate disruption, itself a growing contributor to habitat destruction.   

Christians and churches are called to usher in more of God’s Kingdom, on Earth, as it is in Heaven. We do this in the way we respond now, to the pain of the current situation, and in the way we discern future opportunities for good, work for and pray them into being. 

A unique opportunity is approaching. The eye-watering expenditure and radical actions by governments in response to Covid-19 shows what is possible. Further gigantic sums will be borrowed and spent on rebooting the economy post Covid. The fundamental question facing society is not whether we rebuild the economy, but in what form?  Will the government waste taxpayers money and more years we just cannot afford, to go back to dirty ‘business as usual’? Or will they invest in moving fast-forwards to a green and fairer – low carbon, low pollution, high nature, high health – economy?  

Christians and churches, as citizens and institutions, through our actions and our voice, have a critical role to play in making the latter happen. Nothing will replace the loss of those who are grieving loved ones. But converting the evil of Covid-19 into a powerful impetus for establishing an economy which respects God’s creation will at least make life safer for future generations and nature.  

15 responses on “How can we turn the tables on the evil of Covid-19?

  1. Rev Dr ChrisWalton says:

    At last a Christ led response, thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul.
    In reply I dare to offer the following poem which I wrote for Easter.
    A shy and fragile hope
    What do we want to feel when
    we insist that faith gives us hope?
    A culture that has found
    happiness in a way of life
    Which destroys
    the Creator’s dream and glory
    will not settle for
    a shy and fragile hope articulated
    by the words
    “Take this from me, but your
    will be my will”, even less
    ” My God, why have you forsaken me”.
    Yet believing requires a metanoia
    Genuine enough to live
    As if the kingdom of God is present,
    for though this shy and fragile hope
    will bring Good Friday consequences
    God’s creation will thrive.
    Chris Walton Easter 2020
    (Dronfield Baptist Church,)

  2. Cynthia Hogbin says:

    Let us thank God for this very stark warning and for the opportunity that He is giving us to repent of our greed and lack of consideration for the beautiful

    world which He created for our pleasure. I trust and pray that we will take on board the need to play our part in caring for it so that future generations will be able to look back and thank us for reversing the downward spiral into which we had fallen and how wonderful it would be if people recognised the GOD OF CREATION and as a result, turn to Him in faith and salvation.

    May the Lord continue to bless you all in the work that you are doing for Him

    Yours sincerely
    Cynthia Hogbin

  3. Helen says:

    I do not think the use of the word evil is helpful. A virus is a virus, unless there is intentionality there. Demonising part of nature will increase people’s fear and disconnect from it, which has caused so much harm environmentally.

    People have caused the environmental stress that has lead to the disturbance of eco systems, displacement of animals and the necessity of eating different food stuffs. People as the animal at the top of the food chain, are now eating sick plants and sick animals, from a sick world. Why should human animals be exempt from rogue viruses?

    • David Hogan says:

      Helen, I very much agree with what you say. When talking about evil, we’d do better to be looking in a large mirror. We are all capable of experiencing our own ‘dark side’ but pray that our faith leads us to the other end of that spectrum as shown by Jesus. We shouldn’t pick and choose the bits of nature we like – that virus looks pretty attractive under an electron microscope, and has a smart strategy for survival. Let us all take some responsibility for where we find ourselves and do what we can to create a world ‘God would approve of”. And it was very good.

    • Mike Turton says:

      Rather than seeing the cirus itself as evil, I think we would be better seeing the evil as what we have done to this world to allow a naturally-occuring organsim to make the jump to humans.

  4. Sally Gray says:

    Throughout this crisis I have had Micah 4:4 in the back of my mind
    “Everyone will sit under their own vine
    and under their own fig tree,
    and no one will make them afraid,
    for the Lord Almighty has spoken.”
    The context of the chapter is: ” In the last days…”

    Like many I’ve been thrilled at the opportunity to spend more time in the garden, sharing ideas and pictures on facebook and where possible sharing equipment, plants and seeds with others and seeing their gardens thrive too. Never have I witnessed such a gardening fever in April without the profits going to the garden centres! The enthusiasm amongst my friends is wonderful to see. At the same time I’m increasingly sad for those who cannot join in because they don’t have any outdoor space to call their own, not even a balcony or window box. The ownership of land on which to grow one’s fig-tree and vine (for fruit, wine and shade) is basic in God’s vision for our well-being and peace, and I believe the way development is going in this country is the opposite of God’s plan, increasingly high density housing, planting trees but without room for them to grow, communal spaces without opportunity for hands-on involvement by residents or play space for children, or that residents have to pay extra for. I look at all new developments in my fast-growing area and comment on landscape and ecology, asking for space for nature. The prophets also mention having water from one’s own well and this is vital also to peace and prosperity in the land. The state of our nation’s rivers is at a critical low point and the only way new developments will be supplied is by drying up our precious streams on the surface denying wildlife their share. This has already happened in my chalk area. So my hope and prayer is that public opinion will realise again the value of green spaces and growing things at every level of society and get behind a greener economy for the next generation. Also that the experience of social distancing will teach the population to appreciate that the space between us is by no means empty. On the contrary, it is full of thoughtfulness and consideration for the other person, the air is cleaner and scented with flowers around us, or our neighbours’ cooking which we’d never noticed before, and the stillness allows the pressures of life to simmer down and dissipate so our thoughts are free to roam and take in the sounds of nature that we can hear now that we’d never noticed before… or perhaps dimly remembered from childhood. Our senses are being awakened as never before and our minds refreshed with nature’s beauty. I long for this to continue after the Covid Crisis is over and result in better planning for a healthy future for wildlife and us. The fact that we are seeing more wildlife in ‘our’ habitat says to me that nature is merely taking back what we took from it by force of bulldozer and bricks.

    • Ann Stuart says:

      I found the phrase “the space between us is by no means empty – it is full of thoughtfulness and consideration for the other person“ very thought provoking. Thank you. I have found the absence of physical contact one of the most trying aspects of this time, and it helped me to see the positives in it.

  5. Julie Fagan says:

    It is so good to hear people starting to recognise our collective responsibility for the pandemic through industrial devastation and terrible poverty.
    It would be miraculous if governments did start to think of alternative economies, not just for the sake of God’s wonderful creation that we have been so busy damaging, even destroying but for the sake of the people living in life threatening and hopeless poverty, affected by floods and droughts, as well as those living in horrendous conditions in refugee camps. We have collectively seen who the key workers are, and they are not the rich.
    Father God we need a miracle or we need Jesus to come back and sort it – another miracle. Amen

  6. Sheila Brown says:

    I’m struck by the illustration you have chosen for this message: it shows trees whose roots are covered with stonework, whereas trees should normally provide habitat for wild life. I don’t know if it was your intention to highlight the present problem, particularly evident in suburbia, of gardens and parks paved over, causing problems with run-off in times of heavy rain and flooding and precluding habitat to threatened species, e.g. hedgehogs.

    The art of “hedging and ditching”, once practised and taught from one generation to another, seems to be dying out and needs reviving and practising. It is encouraging to see a good number of dry stone walls in the countryside – an old skill still in use.

  7. Rob Wakeling says:

    God has either allowed or sent Covid-19 to teach the world something about the future. Surely we need to respond.

    Should we not implement Fossil Fuel rationing or taxation or both before the traffic returns to the roads and the air? Key workers (newly defined) can receive extra rations or tax exemption or both.

    Should we not stop importing meat?

    Let us think globally and pray that everyone may see the world as God sees it and ourselves as God sees us.

    • George Reiss says:

      Yes, I feel that the travel aspect is a big challenge too. On the one hand you have people benefitting from quieter roads and less pollution, but on the other not much in the way of initiatives to improve matters once CV19 has receded. This could be a good time to improve infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists when traffic is low. Greenpeace has a petition about air travel and subsidies which is well worth reading.

  8. Robin. Murch says:

    Gladly we witness many good people involved with compassionate action…….also good visionaries for climate change action, world justice, environmental action…….and much more besides………read Pope Francis. “Laudatory si”….. To make progress on any of these fronts…… thing is absolutely necessary and that is. reform of Government…… UK …Parliament is well past its sell by date… in an Edwardian fantasy bubble…..We need PR….area assemblies, meaningful votes, constitutional debate and reform….. We must not tolerate Celebrity politics and massive Global finance….ruling our country or indeed the world….and getting their own way over the common good, in the interests of the rich and powerful. Change is coming but it will have to be on good foundations of political reform.

  9. Joyce Hallam says:

    There are already excellent blue prints for a better way to run the economy of the world in Kate Rawlinson’s donut economy and Ellen McArther’s circular economy. In addition the work of Janine Benyus on Biomimicry is inspirational for a sustainable world in the future.

  10. Joyce Hallam says:

    The work of Kate Rawnsworth on the donut economy, Ellen McArthur on the Circular Economy and Janine Benyus is inspirational as to a more sustainable way forward for the planet. Worth looking up their work.
    Joyce Hallam

  11. Flora says:

    I don’t think describing a virus as ‘evil’ is appropriate. The ‘evil’ is the continuing and wanton interference in nature by the human race which has led directly and indirectly to the spread of such viruses. Our mandate from God has always been to be good stewards of this earth: and there are natural consequences when we are not.