By Rodney Eivers

‘A Visit to Bunnings – Aborted’

My wife and I sat down for our daily afternoon tea ritual.

“Did you go to Bunnings as you said at lunch time that you would?”

“No,” I replied. “I changed my mind. On balance I thought the risk was better avoided.”

I reflected on why I made that decision.

On this very day we were being made aware by the Queensland Premier and Chief Health Officer that there had been a stream of truck drivers bringing the Covid-19 virus from heavily infected New South Wales to South-East Queensland. One of them had passed the virus on to a family whose daughters attended St Thomas More College, probably the nearest high school to our Sunnybank Hills residence.

Since then, over the past three days the Department of Health had been identifying exposure sites in an effort to track the virus. Half a dozen or so new ones were popping up every day, and we were being surrounded by them in our own and other local suburbs.

We all heaved a sigh of relief when the authorities assured us that this outbreak seemed to be controllable and that although we would need to be watchful, we would, for now, escape the imposition of a lock down.

So why did going to Bunnings give me pause? It comes from my longstanding philosophy on risk and chance.

My family are well aware of my custom, when touring, of declining opportunities to go sight-seeing in helicopters or aeroplanes or engage in pastimes such as white-water rafting.

Skydiving or bungee-jumping are well off the bucket list.

My hesitation is not from a sense of fear as such. It comes from the value that I place on being alive. For me it is an amazing privilege to have existed at all; right from the time of a loving copulation by my parents. Having lived and experienced a life time and survived so many family and friends over the years I see what I have left of consciousness as something worth nurturing and preserving. Why put me, such a remarkable outcome of millions of years of evolutionary process, at risk of extinction?

The response to this from my fellows may very well be: “Why worry? In most situations there’s only a small risk of some adverse event.”

Maybe that is so, but in participating in an activity with risk I am still increasing the possibility of something going wrong. Is it worth it?

A correspondent on the ABC News website today noted how lucky Queensland has been so far in avoiding the worst of Covid-19. He concluded the article, however, by also noting:

“As the old saying goes: I’m a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work the more I have of it”.

This is not to say that it is virtuous to avoid all risk. Love of our fellows will require risk-taking at many levels. This then becomes a moral issue. To what extent do we weigh up the probabilities and take risks for the sake of a better world and better relationships? Those who would be peacemakers well know the risks of being mediators. In some cases they have lost their lives as a result of their initiatives in seeking to make the world a more peaceful and compassionate place. May that field of risk, accepting the probabilities, still be one we are prepared and willing to undertake.

Addendum: It must be said that an additional contribution to my caution in going to Bunnings arises from a family incident last weekend. My two teenage grandsons took their father to a restaurant at Garden City Shopping Centre to celebrate Fathers’ Day. As luck would have it (low probability one would have expected), that very same restaurant happened to be the one where one of our New South Wales truckies chose, at the same time, to have a meal.

The outcome now is that the whole family including the mother is under quarantine lockdown for a fortnight. No job, no pay and worst of all my 17-year-old grandson will miss his final year formal by two days.

Disclaimer: views represented in SOFiA blog posts are entirely the view of the respective authors and in no way represent an official SOFiA position. They are intended to stimulate thought, rather than present a final word on any topic.

Photo by Önder Örtel on Unsplash