In a 5 May message entitled “The Story of our Pacific Household in the ‘New Normal,’ ” the Pacific Conference of Churches acknowledges those risking their lives to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and expressed condolences to those who have lost loved ones.
“To those who are fearful, we offer to you our vision of a region that if we work together even with our fears and uncertainties, we will be offering to our children a much better story for them to share with their children in the journey ahead,” reads the message. “The impact of the coronavirus, while deeply tragic on the one hand, offers us a unique opportunity to envision life anew.”
Death does not have the final say, the message continues. “Let us map out a new way of living and relating with each other,” the message reads. “This task is urgent because if we fail to genuinely make the effort to understand the root causes of injustice, aggression, forms of conflict and climate change, and what makes people despair and renders them vulnerable to the cruel forces of nature, violence will, in the midst of great advances, characterize this decade for our people.”
Our ecological future will need to need to include how we understand and define ecology, reflects the message. “We will need to factor into the measures of our national and regional progress, our ecological assets which includes the losses and damages to our environment, aspects of our cultures and traditions, and our relationships,” reads the text. “And conversely, factor in the benefits of emerging ecological relationships with our environment, ocean and in our political relations.”
Indigenous people struggle to express who they are and their perspectives on what life expects from them, continues the message. “We must work together to create common political goals with indicators to measure the health of our political life,” the message reads. “This means that we must learn to talk across the artificial political boundaries of colonial division, and to shared beliefs, our relational mandates, and our traditional links that trace us back to thousands of years of existence in the Pacific.”
Our diversity is our strength, the message concludes. “We are returning to ourselves, to our own histories, just as we did at other points in the respective political developments of our island countries,” the message reads. “We will together carve a future not of our own but one that will be written in graciousness because we will script something about which we cared and loved much – our Pacific household.”