Comment by Harborough churches: Removal of rules shouldn’t mean the removal of manners, self-care and consideration for others
Every week, the Harborough churches write for the Harborough Mail. This week, it is the turn of Rev. Andy Murphy, Methodist Minister in Market Harborough, Kibworth and Naseby, and vice-chair of Churches Together in Harborough.
As I write this, it is “Freedom Day” and the Prime Minister, Health Secretary and thousands of others are in isolation. Some might smile at the irony of that, but it serves for me a stark reminder that we are not out of this yet. Government restrictions have come to an end, to the relief of many who have felt deeply and painfully constrained and hampered. Yet many are still vulnerable, the virus is still spreading rapidly and our NHS is facing a summer of immense strain.
The government cannot keep on restricting our lives for ever. Life has to be worth living, but there is a balance that is hard to find in these unprecedented times. The onus is now on us all to continue to remember our responsibility to one another. Some organisations will still have to impose their own restrictions, for good reason. As we’re out and about, we don’t know who we might encounter, or what their health conditions may be.
When we give children rules, there is always a purpose behind them – about learning to act as responsible, healthy people with consideration for those around us. One of our family rules is “No dessert unless you’ve eaten all your dinner”. Sometimes, this is flexible if they’ve done well enough. I don’t expect they’ll need it when they’re adults! Hopefully, eating a good nutritious meal will become second nature to them.
Then there are ways of life which children pick up without them being “rules”. I once asked my daughter why she left her clothes all over her bedroom floor. Her response stunned me: she said, “Daddy, I just thought that was what we did in this house.” So, my wife and I had to take a long hard look at our own bedroom! “Do as I say, not as I do,” just doesn’t work – in parenting, or any kind of leadership.
Jesus once gave what is often called the Golden Rule: “In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). He said this was the essence of all the other rules, and it is echoed by many other religions.
As adults, we don’t always have the safety net of regulations, but we can still make informed decisions about our behaviour. The removal of rules shouldn’t mean the removal of manners, self-care and consideration for others and our world.
I hope that since we’ve all learned so much more about the pandemic in the last year, we might continue in the same attitude of care and responsibility for one another – aware of what we might be spreading as well as receiving. And with the same regard and thankfulness for our health service and those who work to offer a service in every part of society.
By Rev. Andy Murphy, Methodist Minister in Market Harborough, Kibworth and Naseby, and vice-chair of Churches Together in Harborough.