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Why our response to COVID-19 gives me hope for a sustainable future

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In the midst of disruption, we’ve been reminded of how connected we are and how much we depend on each other. And we have responded to the crisis by coming together in ways - and at a pace - that we wouldn’t have thought possible just a short time ago. There is a reason to hope.

In a report released earlier this month, the World Bank described COVID-19 as the worst setback in a generation in the quest to end poverty. For the first time in decades, global extreme poverty is expected to rise - a dramatic reversal of the unprecedented progress to reduce poverty that we have made over the last twenty five years. The health and economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has played a big part in this but it is not the only reason our hard-won progress is under threat. The same report highlights the growing impact climate change will have on the ability of millions of people to make “the great escape” from poverty - unless we take action now to create a more sustainable future for all people.

For all of us, this year has been like none in our lifetime. So much of life as we knew it has been turned upside down. The urgent and transformative action that is needed to address both the COVID-19 and climate crises at a global scale can be hard to contemplate after a year that has left many of us feeling pretty worn out. Yet throughout the immense disruption, we’ve been reminded of how connected we are and how much we depend on each other. And we have responded by coming together in ways - and at a pace - that we wouldn’t have thought possible just a short time ago. We have seen so many examples of who we can be at our best - and our best gives us reason to hope that a sustainable future for all people can be achieved.

The social distance that has helped to keep us safe has also reminded us how important our relationships are and in our isolation we’ve found creative ways to nurture them.

It gives me hope when I see the values and priorities that are modelled in the life of Jesus reflected in the way our community responds to a crisis. We have prioritised people’s health and wellbeing and made sacrifices for the sake of those who are vulnerable and for our shared longer-term good. We’ve not done it perfectly and it will take time to recover, but seeing people supported through hardship, the homeless provided with somewhere safe to stay, and Australia stepping up to support our global neighbours to access a COVID-19 vaccine are reasons I give thanks.

The social distance that has helped to keep us safe has also reminded us how important our relationships are and in our isolation we’ve found creative ways to nurture them. We’ve gone out of our way to reach out to people who might be struggling on their own. Neighbours have rallied and unlikely friendships have formed. Being “in this together” has broken down barriers and we are collectively stronger for it. In rising to new challenges, we’ve discovered new possibilities and, as we build back, we have an opportunity to create a better way forward. Just imagine - what more is now possible?

Of course, our ultimate hope is in the eternal promise of new life that God has given us in Jesus: a promise to redeem and restore all of creation. Any individual or collective action we take, will only get us so far. But they are also the signposts of the bigger restorative work God is doing in our world. That my action, my small offering, can be part of something so much greater - this not only gives me a reason to hope but also a reason to act.


Emma Wyndham Chalmers is TEAR's Advocacy Strategy and Project Manager.