There has been a lot of talk about how we protect the most vulnerable in our society through a lockdown. On the one hand, some people have argued that the strict lockdown measures and shielding guidance is in the best interests of the most vulnerable. On the other hand, others have suggested that we simply put restrictions in place for the vulnerable so that the resrt of us can enjoy our freedom. The word vulnerable is primarily being used as synonymous with the elderly (especially over 80s).
So, it is worth having a look at what the vulnerable category have been doing. Whilst the rest of us have been complaining about lost freedoms, trying to find ways around the rules and expressing our fear on a daily basis, it has been a different story for those who may be old enough to remember the Blitz rather than just use it as a metaphor for today’s crisis.
The dominant image from the pandemic will of course be Captain Tom, persistently raising money to support the NHS. However, Captain Tom is not so much unique as representative of an older generation. It has often been our older people who have been the quickest to learn and adapt to the new normal. They have complied with putting on facemasks when they often could argue for an exemption, they have mastered new technology so that they can get to church or stay in touch with the grandchildren via Zoom and Facebook. They are the ones who have been phoning round to check that everyone is okay and they are often the ones ready to go for a walk in the park with someone who is vulnerable.
In our church it has often been the elderly who have been keenest to see things re-opening up again even if they personally are not able to attend yet. If you remember a few months back, there was a meme of all the different competing pressures pastors face at the moment with some voices loudly demanding a return to normal and others wanting churches closed longer. My experience has been that our older members have not been part of that pressure but have been prayerful encouragers.
There has been an alertness to the risks of the virus but at the same time, we have seen them refuse to be bowed down by it. There has been realism, courage and faith. The very people our society has considered to need carrying through this have been the ones carrying our society through.