A Heartfelt Plea

I wrote to my MSP and to the First Minister again this morning. I doubt if I will get a response or if my letters will actually be read. In the past, the best I have had is a bland acknowledgment and a referral to the relevant spokesperson who responded by suggesting I take a look at the government’s web site. I have a terrible feeling I am wasting my time, but it helps me release some steam, for there is plenty of that to be released.

From the beginning I have felt that the lockdown was a terrible mistake and I was so disappointed that when the Scottish Government had the opportunity, as the issue was one of health, to steer a different course, in the end, we seem to have slavishly followed Westminster in its panic over Covid-19, for panic it certainly was. Any difference between the administrations was only cosmetic, over timing or extent and that doesn’t augur well for an Independent Scotland, if we are going to end up meekly following in line with Westminster.

But it happened, we are where we are, and we have to live with it, and I can’t express how totally depressing it is to sense that there is still no end in sight. The deadly slow pace of the lifting of all these extraordinary measures is excruciatingly painful and with each passing day gradually sapping the life out of our communities, in almost every area. This is not about me. my family or my close friends, but about our society and how we can mitigate the terrible harm that we have done by imposing this horrible lock-down.

I had a long and difficult conversation yesterday with someone who is part of a pastoral group in our local church. While we come together as a congregation for worship services in our church building, we also have pastoral groups, and this works in various levels, for study and prayer and for practical support. The groups include all ages married, with families, old folk and a number of single adults. Some have serious mental and other health issues and depend very much on the regular support which these group gives. I was moved and challenged with the conversation. Although I had suspected that the sudden loss of this precious opportunity of meeting together would have serious consequences, I hadn’t fully realised what it would cost for the most weak and vulnerable. The whole conversation seemed to be a desperate cry for help and at the end, I was left with her plea  “Please, can you do something, can you do something..”

I was stung by the plea and sat down to work out, as best I could within the current regulations, to see if there was some way that our pastoral groups could return.  The more I studied the rules and guidance, I realised that it would not and could not work in any meaningful way because it came up against the brick wall, the curse of “social distancing”. I really do think it is a curse, as it is totally against human nature and is slowly blighting our lives.

So my plea was simple, to end this horrible imposition and to do it now.  To release this muzzle which is destroying the very fabric of our society, turning us into an unfriendly nation full of distrust and suspicion of the “other” and causing terrible harm to the most vulnerable.

I am not holding my breath.

Crawford Mackenzie

9 thoughts on “A Heartfelt Plea

  1. Thank you. I’m with you all the way.

    (Trivial point: spelling mistake in first line… maybe a Freudian slip…)

  2. Very much with you in concerns for those who are vulnerable and may also have mental health issues to mange, but not sure why your small groups cannot meet. Distancing of a group of more than four may not be possible in a home, but surely possible in a church building? I don’t belong to a ‘pastoral’ group, but my book group performs a similar support function for our group of six women. We have met consistently throughout, twice on Zoom, since then in the open air, but this month will meet in our home. We’ve also had a number or ‘walk and talk’s in between.If anything, the bonds are closer as we’ve shared together the impact of the pandemic on each of us and our loved ones.

  3. I am not a Quaker but I attend the Lanark Quaker meeting pretty regularly. During the lockdown we met via Zoom weekly rather than fortnightly. These were not ideal but they had a couple of advantages. We managed to include one member who cannot travel to the physical meeting and another elderly member who is often prevented from coming due to transport difficulties. Personally I found I could hear for the first time without any strain what people were saying. And then on Sunday we had a very successful socially distanced meeting in the open air. I do wonder if your ideological stance on the lockdown is preventing you from searching positively for imaginative responses to the pastoral challenge? I exaggerate of course, but, come on, the Covenanters, the Roman Christians on the catacombs, the Disruption folk in sheds and boats?

  4. I was still confused as to why you could not use church building for your pastoral meetings, so I looked up your own church guidelines and there does not seem to be a problem with these meetings…so now really confused by your blog! Please elucidate!

    • Wow! That’s better than me. I can’t always make sense of these guidelines. But on your question, Yes, we can use the buildings for pastoral groups. But the issue was “social- distancing” which we still have to comply with.

  5. Yes, but I still don’t see why that stops you getting together. Is ‘laying on of hands’ an essential component?

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