Few things have divided the nation quite so starkly as the comings and goings of Dominic Cummings, ironically the mastermind behind the last most divisive issue to enrage the British people, Brexit.
The news that Boris Johnson’s top advisor left London in late March to travel 260 miles to his parents’ house in Durham while his wife was sick with Covid-19 has unleashed a tsunami of condemnation into the already-polluted ecosystem of social media.
I’m no great fan of the man who allegedly championed the now-discredited herd immunity theory and who, at the beginning of this pandemic, reportedly made comments belittling the impact the virus would have on the elderly. I do, however, have sympathy for his current predicament.
In mid-March both my husband and I succumbed to coronavirus. As I wrote in an earlier blog, my symptoms were extreme and for three very dark days I faced the prospect of being hospitalised.
At the time, I believed my husband’s illness would take the same trajectory. Alone in my self-isolation and despair, as I battled the virus in our spare room, one question dominated my mind: what would happen to our 3 year-old if we were both taken into hospital?
I have tasted firsthand the fear that drove Dominic Cummings to make the decision that he did. When faced with very few options and next to no specific government guidance, we, too, had to face difficult and heartbreaking choices. In our case, should the worst have happened, we planned for my sister-in-law to drive to our house to look after our little girl.
Would this have broken lockdown rules? Perhaps. But our primary motivation was ensuring that our daughter was cared for and safe, so we put a plan in place that would place the fewest people in harm’s way. The decision we made, while not without its own risks, seemed the best (and only) option we had at the time.
Knowing that I couldn’t call on the very people I would usually rely on for support (parents, friends or church family) because we couldn’t expose them to the virus was inexplicably horrible and deeply alienating at our hour of great need.
In earlier centuries, our house would have been marked with a blue cross on the door to signal to others the plague had reached us. We were faced with the prospect of going to overstretched hospitals as the peak of the virus broke. We were watching images of people on ventilators and reading the news stories of children dying – all this while living with a deadly virus and having no other choice but to expose our daughter to it.
Unless you have lived that horror, unless you’ve had to face up to this nightmare scenario, you have no right to judge Dominic Cummings.
As Christians Jesus shows us a better way. He asks us to love others, even when it hurts. He asks us to believe the best of people even when they don’t deserve it.
When Jesus was faced with a braying mob looking for their pound of flesh, his response was simple: he who is without sin, cast the first stone.
I know that people are hurting, grieving and angry. I know that many of us have had to face our worst fears during this pandemic. I know that these last few months have been excruciatingly painful for everyone. But I also know that we can take that hurt and pain to the one with real power to heal. Anything else is a false panacea that will bring only short-term satisfaction.
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