The Necessity of Hope

Passing through 2020, I could remember a fleeting feeling that perhaps sometime in the future we would think of the year fondly – a chance to pause from the relentless clicks of the overlocking wheels of work, career, and well … ‘being busy’.

Here in Australia, we have largely escaped the horror of the first onslaught of COVID19. Locking ourselves in our oversized gated community had given us low casualty number and life that went on as normal – except that we couldn’t step out of the gate. We could only watch the horrors befallen the countries all over the world through the windows of our television and screens.

When the vaccines arrived, we were presented with a semblance of hope. Something to look forward to – a flicker of light to focus our eyes on. When the roll-out turned out to be painfully slow in the beginning, and the Delta strain arrived in the country, that flicker of light started to dart further away from our grasp.

I thank God for the life I lead here in South Australia. Compared to New South Wales or Victoria, we have been incredibly blessed that we don’t have to experience prolonged periods of lockdown. However, this experience has made me reflect. It’s like living in a pleasant cul-de-sac with the gates to other parts of the gated community either locked, or manned with guards who would view each passing person extra-suspiciously.

With the low possibility that I can step out of the gated community, I look for things to remain hopeful in this little cul-de-sac of ours. I open my eyes for events to look forward to. It’s strange that I was extra disappointed that the Royal Adelaide Show was again cancelled this year. After all, I’m not into rides, showbags, overpriced food, or novelty things that I thought would be good to buy but end up gathering dust. But again, the event serves a glimmer of hope – something to look forward to in this sea of isolation and beigeness.

Of course, what I am experiencing is nothing like what the residents of Sydney or Melbourne are experiencing. I can’t imagine the state of their mental wellbeing, with the lack of hope and the prospect that they could go beyond their cul-de-sac to visit other parts of the gated community of Australia – or better still, to venture out to see the world again. No wonder that there are many people who are depressed and considering sinister ways to exit their misery.

If I assess my mental state, I don’t think I have escaped the pandemic scot-free. My faith has sustained me, but I’m mentally bruised. I think we all are. I joke to my friends that I am like a dog that needs to be walked. This dog wants to explore beyond the familiar spots, and be amazed by unfamiliar routines, smells, sights, and sounds. This dog wants to wake up in a different country, face unfamiliar streets and alleys to traverse, and scenes to be immortalised in photographs and posts. This dog needs to be walked. Badly.

I realise now that we all need that hope. We need a purpose, rather than endless cycles of wash-rinse-and-repeat. I just hope that our leaders would realise that. In their decisions to either add another lock to the gate of our cul-de-sac or to the overall gated community of Australia – or to start unlocking and dismantling barriers – they have the opportunity to either make the hope shine brighter, or rob us from remaining flickers of light.