Viewpoint Autumn 2020

Viewpoint
David Ahern

David Ahern

Current editor of The Majellan, David has spent more than 40 years as an editor/journalist

Summer holidays are usually a time of relaxation and enjoying the company of family and friends. The days are long and barmy and the parties and get togethers are loads of fun. This summer past, however, was very different. There was little to excite and much to lament.

Summer holidays are usually a time of relaxation and enjoying the company of family and friends. The days are long and barmy and the parties and get togethers are loads of fun.  

This summer past, however, was very different. There was little to excite and much to lament.

It started badly with the disastrous volcano eruption at Whakaari, also known as White Island in New Zealand. The volcano erupted violently and with no warning on December 9, trapping many people on the island. Twenty-one people eventually succumbed to their injuries, including 17 Australians. Just weeks before Christmas, tourists, on a fun day out at a famous landmark, were unexpectedly and cruelly taken away from their loved ones.

If that wasn’t bad enough, parts of Australia were affected by dreadful bushfires, devastating communities and leaving a shocking toll of lives lost (33), homes razed (more than 2,000) and native flora and fauna destroyed (incalculable). The duration and severity of the fires shocked the nation and the world.

Such was the scope of the fires, many cities, Melbourne and Sydney in particular, endured days of smoke haze and poor air quality. People with asthma and respiratory ailments were worst affected. It was heart-breaking to see the vision on the news day-after-day, week-after-week. The brave firefighters worked valiantly and tirelessly to save whole communities and people’s properties. They are heroes in every sense of the word.

It was an international event, with assistance provided by firefighters from New Zealand, Canada and the US. Our firefighters were exhausted, having battled the blazes for weeks without much rest, so the international help was invaluable. And it wasn’t only Australian firefighters who suffered. Three American volunteers tragically died when their plane crashed while trying to douse a large fire near Canberra.

Then in January came the Coronavirus outbreak. It was a return to the bad old days when SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and swine flu circulated around the globe. There’ve been many recorded deaths and hospitalisations, and the Coronavirus crisis, that originated in China, is still unfolding.

It was also a challenging time for us at Majellan Media over the New Year period as we lost a much-valued colleague, whose sudden passing was a shock (see following story). Steven Barnes, our digital media and marketing person, was only with us for a short time, but he made a tremendous impact. His tragic death was heartbreaking for his parents, family and friends, and for our small ‘family’ team at Majellan Media. Our love and prayers are with the Barnes’ family always.

With all these terrible events swirling around us, there were many moments when summer felt like the end of times. It was hard to find the good in the world. And yet as the crisis was unfolding, we celebrated the birth of a baby who became man. A man who preached love and respect for others. A man who promised salvation for all who follow his path of enlightenment.

When tragedy strikes, it’s not easy to make sense of what’s happening and to see the positives. But as another significant event in the Church calendar approaches, Jesus’ death and resurrection, gives us the opportunity to ponder our own existence. Through the despair there is hope. Through the darkness there is light. We need to keep the light switched on and to see the positives.

Image: Frank McKenna Unsplash.

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