The Eve Of Freedom

Folding back the corners of distant memories stuck to our fridge, I long for the fragrant hue of our Bahamian family and the Caribbean Sea. Out of the mouth of babes comes: “How long till we go back, Mummy?” Words, although ever so sweet, carry a sting whilst contemplating the answer. Are these vibrantly telling, yet faded photos as close as we will get anytime soon? Will our children only experience the culture that runs thick in their being through a library of memoirs? Sadness and rage, wrapped in a sense of justice and hope, ring true in my spirit tonight. The ‘eve’ of freedom for Victoria, Australia… at least for now.

Having spent a cumulative 262 days (almost nine months) under stay-home orders since March 2020, our once “world’s most liveable city” now holds the record for the world’s longest lockdown – a title contrary to the heart of her people.

Watching my nine-year-old son play drums with his teacher, through the lens of an iPad, I ponder where our society is headed. Seems familiar to a ’90s Schwarzenegger film. The reflection on the screen is a child, who far more often than not is full of joy, charisma, and laughter, yet today seems sombre and unenthused. A lack of social connection with young friends must take its toll on our babies – no matter how much we try to fill the gap.

“No jab, no job,” the news has screamed these last few months, followed by a barrage of what many see as government overreach and a proven steep decline in the mental health in our society.

Barricaded children’s playgrounds, beaches, parks. No visitors to the home. 8 pm curfews. Helicopters patrolling the sky. No more than five to ten people at funerals. Must scan the QR code before going to the dunny! Travel reduced to 5km from your home.

Only essential shopping allowed. Only one household member at a time. International and state borders closed. Thousands of people locked out of their own state… And the list of news items goes on.

With experts estimating the overall recovery rate of COVID-19 as being between 97% and 99.75%, many are questioning whether such extreme measures are just?

After intentionally removing judgement, assumption, opinion, and emotion (which, to be frank, took many months of internal wrestling), I too admit to questioning whether all decisions of those in current power are truly driven by a deep-rooted desire to protect, and wonder what else sits at the very core of this current landscape? Is our society heading towards a totalitarian regime? What does the future of our next generation look like? Because the decisions we make now will impact our children and our children’s children. Those of us who still have a choice need to be prudent in our decision-making.

Mindful of what opinions and attitudes float in the atmosphere around our children during this season, I have been cautious with what has been expressed outwardly, both in our home and on our social media. But with the ever-increasing undercurrent of this season, I feel compelled to share my frustration – a frustration in the way people are approaching the pandemic as a whole.

Having witnessed first-hand the beauty and heart of humanity during the Black Summer Bushfire crisis, to only two months later experiencing such a contrast in human behaviour, I am saddened at the current climate.

There is an undercurrent carrying the spirit of division and segregation, many completely unaware. Fogged by cloudy judgement and puffy-chested opinions, many lack the empathy and love once shared between churches, society, families, friends, brothers and sisters, the vaxed and unvaxed – who were once aligned, but no longer agree… on something. I highlight the word something because it is only one facet of our multifaceted society. Yet how can something affect everything? Because we have given it power. Our time. Our energy. Our discussion. Which it deserves, but not all of it. Has it become somewhat of an idol for some?

What would happen if we redirected our focus on love and restoring relationships? Removing all stigma, all judgement, putting all opinions aside, and focusing for just a moment on the heartbeat of humanity? Surely this would be a catalyst to change the state of our society’s mental health for one.

Irrespective of each other’s beliefs and opinions surrounding the pandemic and vaccination, is our first responsibility not to love? To nurture one another? To take a giant step back and look from an eternal perspective?

And, freedom. Is it not the greatest gift of all? Freedom to speak. Freedom to make a choice about our health. Freedom to think. Freedom from judgement and condemnation. Freedom from bondage. Freedom from old wineskins to create new. Freedom to be who we are designed to be. How can we attain this, unless we walk in love? If Jesus was bipartial in whom He chose to love and heal. How many people would have missed out on the choice of eternal freedom?

If our greatest commandment is about ‘relationship’, is that not the call we should be responding to at this time of duress? Responding to others in love, irrespective of our opinion, choice, or political agenda. It is the very foundation upon why we exist. As a human race. Without it, who are we?

So tonight, whilst teetering on the threshold of a new season in Victoria, I choose the liberty to air my thoughts at the risk of losing followers, friends and even ruffling the feathers of some family members and pose these questions. Where, as a society, are we headed? Are the thoughts rattling around in many heads – including my own – of tyranny giving birth to evil dictatorship, really that far-fetched?

For now, I think we are safe… but I am concerned about where we are headed. Yes.

Are we seeing the mark of the beast and the book of Revelation play out before our eyes? Personally, I don’t think so. But is this a season of preparation both in the physical and the spiritual for what’s to come? Perhaps.

As someone who is torn between the obedience of Romans 13 and the final verse of Romans 14, I am choosing to prudently sit and wait for deeper revelation. If we have been chosen for such a time as this, surely the answers are woven into our very DNA, and it’s only a matter of time before they surface. For many, answers, revelation, and confirmation have already arrived. For those, I am happy. I’m hopeful in the waiting, in listening, in seeking, and in the soaking. And in the meantime, focused on mission and loving those around us irrespective of opinion. And… thankful for the remnant of magnificent humans in this world, who, no matter their journey, thoughts, decisions, will love hard regardless. Blessed is the one who knows those kinds.

Tomorrow is a new day; our children are beaming with joy at the fact they return to school on campus. Their smiles are an immeasurable reminder of the goodness of God. One thing I’m not, is fearful. Jesus is still on the throne. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Unfailing and never changing. And… these are things to celebrate.

Danielle McAlpine Johnson is an Australian writer, producer, and director currently living with her family in Melbourne, Australia. 

Written by: Danielle McApline

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