Peace and War

A fine memorial

Today is Saturday April 2nd, 2022. Kia ora!

I checked my phone, and Daylight Saving in New Zealand ends at 3 am tomorrow morning.  I did not know this; usually it ends with Easter (or so I thought).  I also check when Easter is, and Good Friday is April 15th. I needn’t have stressed about posting my daughter’s present after all.

Today’s Covid 19 report, is still better, in terms of new cases and hospitalisations inching downwards, but there are still an alarming number of deaths each day. There are officially 11,560 new cases today, but there have been 23 deaths. There are 678 people in hospital, and 30 in Intensive Care.

Among the cases, most – 1931 – are from Auckland region, followed by Canterbury, which is reporting 1866 positive cases on Saturday. Other regions reporting positive cases include Northland (521), Waikato (1004), Bay of Plenty (650), Lakes (285), Hawke’s Bay (588), MidCentral (663), Whanganui (293), Taranaki (428), Tairāwhiti (141), Wairarapa (97), Capital & Coast (820), Hutt Valley (479), Nelson Marlborough (480), South Canterbury (248), Southern (995) and West Coast (71).

Of the deaths, it’s reported that one person was 30, two were in their 50s, one in their 60s, one in their 70s, 13 in their 80s and five were over the age of 90. One was from Northland, seven from Auckland, two from Lakes DHB, two from MidCentral, seven from Wellington, one from the Nelson and Marlborough region, one from Canterbury and two from Southern. Twelve were male and 11 were female. This brings the total deaths in the outbreak to 378.

We watched a movie on the new free-to-view channel, Eden (formerly Choice).  It has some gems – this movie, Silver Linings Playbook, with Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert de Niro; they are also running an Australian series on Thursday nights called The Newsreader.  As I’ve already seen most of the movies on Māori Television, it’s quite nice to have another channel to watch, although the long ad breaks are really annoying and they’ve done something to the very intense primary colours used in the ads.

It’s now Sunday April 3rd.

At 3 am this morning our time went back one hour. I haven’t changed my watch yet, but my computer and my phone tell me the correct time. This morning I zoomed into an online service with some St Anne’s parishioners – the last in this Lenten series.  Next Sunday, I will either go to church in person, or zoom into its service.  It has been a treat to zoom into St Anne’s services.

The Covid 19 report today is much better, again, apart from the still alarming number of deaths – 18 new deaths. But the new case numbers are down to 4 digits at 8,810; there are 690 hospitalisations, and 26 are in Intensive Care.

Of the deaths reported, two were from Northland, seven were from the Auckland region, three were from Waikato, one was from Whanganui, one was from Hawke’s Bay, one was from the Wellington region, two were from Canterbury, and one was from Southern. One person was in their 30s, three were in their 60s, eight were in their 70s, three were in their 80s, and three were over 90.

On Sunday the new community cases were in Northland (385), Auckland (1,555), Waikato (729), Bay of Plenty (414), Lakes (226), Hawke’s Bay (420), MidCentral (502), Whanganui (222), Taranaki (342), Tairāwhiti (102), Wairarapa (91), Capital and Coast (635), Hutt Valley (389), Nelson Marlborough (364), Canterbury (1,463), South Canterbury (172), Southern (735)and West Coast (57) – while seven were in unknown locations. That’s quite a drop for Wellington and Hawkes Bay.

There’s a stark warning, though: in New Zealand, experts said the second wave of Omicron infections could hit in the next two to three months, and cases could begin to rise again as early as May.

In the UK, almost 5 million people have Covid 19 – the BA2 variant of the omicron variant.  Will we ever escape this thing? 

In the US, Ginni Thomas’s (wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas) access to the White House when the former guy was president is alarming, as are her text messages. Someone in a podcast said he thought she was insane.  She may be, but the extent of her influence, and her access, and the identity of her spouse, is alarming. More of her texts are being revealed and analysed.  It seems that Trump’s involvement in the insurrection is becoming more and more certain as a White House phone log has a significant gap (7 hours 37 minutes), and it’s thought he used burner phones. More and more folk are spilling the beans about that event and the events leading up to it.  It’s all very concerning – and amusing; meanwhile another GOP Senator has echoed Trump’s request to Putin to dish dirt on Joe Biden.  Republicans: I see many off-ramps here. Won’t you take them?

The Ukraine situation is still terrible. The Ukrainians still seem too be amazingly brave, and loyal to their ever inspiring president, Zelensky.  It’s said the area around Kyiv has been liberated by Ukrainian troops, but the retreating Russian troops have left a huge trail of destruction behind them – dead bodies, mines, potholed roads, mines under dead bodies, and general destruction of any buildings.  As it was said in one podcast I listened to, if they surrendered Mariupol, then where would surrender stop?  Meanwhile, although safe passage out of Mariupol has been promised, it does not eventuate.  Shooting and bombings continue.  Putin has called for more conscripts, and it’s feared Russian forces are regrouping for a new attack. 

The Ukrainians seem to be amazingly well organised.  They’re still being supplied by the US, and they seem to be using the stuff they’re getting very wisely.  Every country has some crazy people, but if Ukraine has them, I’m not seeing them to date, despite the huge wave of violence and destruction unleashed by Putin. It was reported on Friday night that Ukrainian forces had struck an oil base in a Russian city; I would have cautioned against such retaliation, but then the irony struck me, of hurting the Russians where it really hurts, seeing that oil is their greatest export, reduced as it is through sanctions.  Not every country has imposed sanctions on Russia.

In most of my lifetime, we have enjoyed peace, or, in other words, no major conflicts. I am truly grateful for this. I was born during the Korean War, but the Great Depression of the 1930’s and the Second World War had had a huge effect on my parents.  For a long time I feared being bombed, until I was old enough to rationalise this fear and realise it was extremely unlikely to happen. Then there was the nuclear crisis and the Cuban Missile Crisis, the war in Vietnam, and much later, the dreadful wars in the Balkans. Then there was the Iraq War, the Syrian Civil War, and the latest war in Afghanistan. There were many other conflicts, of course.  Compulsory conscription ended here not long before we were married; JD was warned that if he joined the Territorials, he would undoubtedly be sent to Vietnam.  I am most grateful that I didn’t have to see any of my sons go to wars or conflicts, although I’m sure they’d have conducted themselves admirably. My father-in-law was in the British army, and the Normandy landings, and I’m sure he was greatly affected by his experiences.  So, by and large, conflict has been at a distance. A friend of one of my sons did two tours of duty in Afghanistan, and a nephew from Australia was there; thankfully none of mine were. That’s a particular grief and concern that I haven’t had to deal with.

For me, it’s not that I take this for granted:  goodness knows, we’ve got nuclear conflict, climate change’s devastation, and the coronavirus to be very concerned about, but the conflict in Ukraine does feel like one of those pivotal moments, which changes everything.  We’ve had rather too many lately, Brexit, Trump’s Presidency, and Megxit to name a few; but this latest needless conflict brings new challenges and shortages to an already challenged planet:  while the poor people of Ukraine watch their livelihoods totally upended, their homes destroyed, and many deaths, the rest of us give thanks and worry about the higher cost of fuel and food, and shortages (nothing, really, compared to the shortages in Russia).  It’s a great sadness, that this Easter, when we celebrate our Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection, we’ll also be thinking of, and praying for, those brave souls in Ukraine, and hoping they can piece their lives together again soon, in some kind of safety and security. 

How does Putin stop this conflict? At some point, he should declare victory and move on. 

It does seem strange to me that in this time when so many people want to relive past hurts, and apologies are seen to not go far enough, many are apparently so unforgiving.  Easter is a time of grace and forgiveness; prime Minister Ardern exhorted us all to be kind; how, then, is there so much unkindness in the world? I’m thinking immediately of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and a certain young man (not so young as to not know better), not going to his grandfather’s memorial service.  I’m also thinking about all the criticism of Prince Andrew’s escorting his mother, Her Majesty the Queen, into Westminster Abbey for this service. Sadly, that became a focus of the service. I still haven’t seen a recording of the actual service, although there’ve been plenty of the British Royal Family arriving and departing. There are many other examples, alas, of such cruelty.

For many of us, Easter is a time that reminds us of the grace, love and forgiveness we have received.  I took a RAT test for Covid 19 this afternoon, and it was negative.  I’m thankful for that too. Peace be with you. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

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