1 June 2019

Viewpoint

Viewpoint
David Ahern

David Ahern

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

When my boys were younger, grocery shopping almost always felt like a painful ordeal. Shopping with a four-year-old and a one year old in tow was highly stressful and fraught with difficulty. I remember my best shopping days back then, however, were when complete strangers would let me push in on the supermarket line or when they would entertain my boys while I concentrated on paying the bill. By anyone’s standards 2020 has been a difficult year. Drought, floods, bushfires and the pandemic have created the perfect storm of misery and gloom for many. For those of us living in Melbourne it has been particularly challenging. Severe lockdowns and being virtual prisoners in our own postcodes for months on end have not been easy. For those who have lost their loved ones and their jobs, the year has been even more wretched.

Not surprisingly, this issue of the Majellan has its fair share of articles about the pandemic and different ways families have coped. People can be very enterprising when testing times arise, and this pandemic year has been no exception.

The media tends to concentrate on the negatives but 2020 has provided some positives. A story by Melanie Dooner looks at the random acts of kindness displayed by families and individuals toward complete strangers. Many of these examples go unreported but it’s a heart-warming insight into some of the more positive things that have occurred.

Melanie ends her article by saying: As Pope Francis encourages us, we pray we may become for one another, ‘stars shining in the midst of darkness.’”

Another article written by Redemptorist priest, Michael Kelly CSsR, is about the coming Advent season. He says we can all draw on the inspiration provided by the likes of Dr Martin Luther King Jr who had a dream about a better future for all peoples.

Fr Michael writes: “As we begin the season of Advent, which concludes with the birth of our saviour Jesus Christ, we pause anew to dream of the reality that God is among us and the difference that Jesus makes to our lives … Jesus calls us to dream and to work to create a world where there is greater equality and a deeper respect for the created world and cosmos which we inhabit.”

So, while COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down and inside out, it can be easy to despair and dwell on the negatives but that’s not what Advent is about. Advent is a time to reflect as individuals about who we are and how we can improve ourselves. Advent is about love, hope and our longing for a better future. Advent is about the birth of Jesus Christ who, like Martin Luther King Jr, wanted people to treat others with dignity and respect: to love their neighbours and to love God.

Who knows what 2021 will bring? A terrific start would be life without masks and social distancing and a vaccine that will enable us to return to something resembling a lifestyle that we once took for granted. The freedom to hug and kiss our loved ones and friends whenever we want would also be wonderful.

While ideally some of these things will soon be a thing of the past, treating people with kindness and respect will hopefully continue to flourish in post pandemic times. Melanie also writes about two young children from one family who have been writing and sending drawings to an elderly widow who sits with them in church. Simple gestures like this can mean the world to someone who may be lonely.  

Every blessing to you and your families at Christmas and for the year ahead.

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