The Captain Tom Effect
Last month a 99-year-old English World War Two veteran decided that he could do something in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Captain Tom sought sponsorship to walk 100 laps of his front yard before he turned 100 last week.
He aimed to raise £1000, but captured the popular imagination and the gratitude of a nation, who pledged £30million to support the work of frontline health workers.
This pandemic has produced unusual heroes. Alongside emergency service workers are those who allow our world to function: truck drivers, teachers, health care workers, and supermarket employees are all in the front lines of this crisis. Captain Tom proves that those considered powerless can change the world.
A recent survey revealed that 85% of Britons did not want life to return to the way it was before the coronavirus outbreak. A similar result could be expected in Australia. This crisis has precipitated a daily round of applause for health workers in Spain at 8 pm, impromptu balcony concerts in Northern Italy, a plethora of online creativity, not to mention pollution ceasing over Beijing and the canals of Venice welcoming fish for the first time in memory.
The pandemic has provided us a vehicle of opportunity. In our country, we have seen families spend quality time together to support one another through job losses and decreased income levels. Our respect for teachers has soared as families have encountered the realities of homeschooling. Through it all, people have shown compassion, patience, and generosity to each other. In the midst of death and suffering, the world is becoming a better place to live. The sacrifice of lives lost and communities devastated through this pandemic need not be in vain.
After Easter, Pope Francis expressed this hope when he said: “We have been profoundly shaken by what is happening all around us and we are all frail, all equal, all precious.“ We are offered the opportunity to dig deep, find our resilience, and allow something wonderful to emerge.
Pope Francis concluded by saying, “Let us welcome this time of trial as an opportunity to prepare for our collective future, a future for all without discarding anyone. Because without an all-embracing vision, there will be no future for anyone.”
- Matt Digges is the Director of Mission at Sawtell Catholic Care, Toormina, New South Wales