On this shielding Facebook group I have just joined, it is remarkable to see how many are using an official “request” and “advice” from the UK government as “the rules”.
A request and advice that states I must not leave my house, should use my own garden only if private/exclusive to me, if a shared bathroom I should completely disinfect all surfaces (before and/or after – I forget which), if a shared kitchen I should do the same (but use the kitchen first or last – I forget), and I should take my meals to my room to eat them there if sharing a house with someone not shielding/isolating with me. And this is to happen for twelve weeks – now extended to fourteen weeks (and probably a lot longer).
As advice and a request it is perfectly reasonable. As an official document to be used for my own protection (not being obliged to leave the house unless I want to) it is brilliant! AND it comes with support for essential deliveries of food and medicines.
But there is much concern in my group.
Those shielding are a diverse bunch. I was actually surprised to find I was on the list – thought I was managing my COPD really well. But the medical peeps have me down as “severe” (I found out when the letter came through). Bummer! So there are those with every kind of debilitating condition known to man or woman. There are a lot who are cheery. Some who are not. And many who are struggling with “the rules” (which aren’t rules at all but advice and a request).
Massive concern over what happens after 30th June. Massive frustration that “we” will be restricted within our four-walls forever. That “we” have been forgotten. That “we” don’t matter. That “we” are expendable.
Because many have not set foot outside their front (or back) door in weeks. For some it is because of “the rules”. For others it’s because they must have clean-uninfected-air not breathed into the atmosphere by “them”. Some are cramped into one small room, one small flat – some with a child or children also isolated and cramped in. So not only is there a myriad of “underlying conditions” – there is also a myriad of differing personal circumstances – and a myriad of differing mindsets.
The mindset that stands out for me is “the rules” mindset.
It also goes some way to explain that thing I was brought up with: “Because The Bible Says So”. Something I accepted as a child but have questioned ever since. Too much like mum and dad’s “Because I say so.” response that they rarely used once I could think for myself.
So is the bible “the rules” (“The Law” to be biblically correct) or an invitation to become so much more? Does the bible demand and require and oblige and tie me down – or does it invite and liberate and empower?
Because “the rules” I have never found to empower (unless it is to the legal detriment of someone else). And in this group i see the same thing: people are imprisoning themselves because “the rules” (which are not) say they must.
Whereas Love … I have always found Love to empower. Me and you and all of us, if we allow. And I see that in this Facebook group as well.
Because the bible says so.
Maybe that is partly why there are so many abuses of power and privilege in religious circles. Perhaps that is why “the sheep” need “leading” so much. Need so much correct “teaching” and “preaching”. Because in my Facebook group I see a need for “being told”. A need to know that someone says it’s okay to do this or that. A need that supersedes the normal daily risk-assessment and decision-making we call “living”.
I have no idea whether any of this shielding group go to church, read the bible or call themselves Christians. But I wonder why those who do respond to the bible in a very similar way as my Facebook group are responding to government request and advice:
Because it’s the rules.