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Insecurity in a COVID world

  • 28 May 2020
The time of recovery from COVID-19 is necessarily a time of insecurity. In the face of financial uncertainty many people have no guaranteed access to income, shelter or work. They find it hard to plan for the future because they do not know what resources and possibilities they will have. Nor will financial security return until there is assurance that the coronavirus can be managed. Eureka Street reflects in a very minor way that insecurity. The change you might have noticed in the publication is a response to the diminishment of financial resources occasioned by COVID-19.

That sort of insecurity is a state of affairs over which we have no control. Looking at it optimistically or pessimistically will not change the reality. But insecurity breeds insecurity. In the face of insecurity we can feel insecure. Our identity as persons can be shaken by the insecurity of our circumstances. This is not inevitable. Nor is it necessarily lasting. Some people will be temporarily or lastingly paralysed by anxiety; others will be more resilient.

These different responses to insecurity are partly a matter of temperament. But they may also reflect the depth of our personal investment in the things that are put at risk. If our identity is totally tied up with financial security, personal safety, particular relationships, reputation or our position in society, then we shall naturally feel deeply insecure when these things are seriously threatened. If our identity is rooted in a deeper sense of self and a trust that transcend circumstances, we shall be able more easily to overcome our feelings of personal insecurity. The daunting Christian model of this is St Paul who boasted of the shipwrecks, floggings, abuse and other hardships he had suffered, sure that nothing could separate him from the love of Christ.

The uncertainty about the future shape of life after the immediate threat of COVID-19 and the certainty that it will involve loss will surely generate strong feelings of insecurity in public life. Such feelings can be destructive, leading people to blame particular social groups for the situation. Even in the less troubled recent past politicians have tried to deflect blame from themselves by directing it at unemployed people, racial, religious and other minority groups, refugees or other convenient targets. Their shaming is the sacrifice that takes insecurity away. The current hostility to Chinese people living in Australia, fanned by those who see China as the enemy