March 2020 – Covid-19 lockdown – the world is uncertain, jobs are lost or fragile. Many people are literally “home alone”. A friend of mine who lives alone, previously articulate and outspoken on Facebook, suddenly removed their account preceded by one message to me:
I'm tired... Nobody cares, they all think I'm a heretic. There's only so much a bloke can take
Self-isolation and social distancing takes many different forms, not just physical.
I listened again to this beautifully moving song from Peter Gabriel, written in the 1980s when coal mines were being closed and unemployment was high. Wikipedia links it to Gabriel’s response to photos taken in the American Depression era. “He composed lyrics within a situation about a man whose unemployment causes stress in his domestic relationship. The verses, sung by Gabriel, describe the man’s feelings of isolation, loneliness and despair; the choruses, sung by Bush, offer words of hope and encouragement.”
And when I read that paragraph something resonated – isolation, loneliness and despair – all words we are using to describe the situation we currently face.
The video is simply a very long hug between Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush as he pours out his despair and she pours in her encouragement and hope. She assures him that he belongs, that he is not alone in this crisis:
“Don’t give up, ‘Cause you have friends
Don’t give up, You’re not the only one
Don’t give up, No reason to be ashamed
Don’t give up, You still have us
The need to belong somewhere, to someone, to a community, resonates with us all across the world right now. In South Africa the word used is “ubuntu” and the phrase “umntu, ngumntu ngabantu” helps to understand that “A person is a person through other people”….or “I am because I belong”.
9 “Don’t get tired of helping others. You will be rewarded when the time is right, if you don’t give up. 10 We should help people whenever we can…” )
Don’t give up helping others … I wonder who I can “sing” this song to today? And maybe these are words that God also “sings” to us?
Don’t give up now, We’re proud of who you are
Don’t give up, You know it’s never been easy
Don’t give up, ‘Cause I believe there’s a place
There’s a place where we belong