In the staggering dislocation of 2020, I think of the many gifts my parents gave me | Christos Tsiolkas

For most Australians, two events of biblical solemnity will define this year: fire and plague. How should we respond?

  • This is part of a series of essays by Australian writers responding to the challenges of 2020

As soon as my partner and I completed two weeks’ quarantine after returning from Europe in late March, I went around to visit my mother. We had talked on the phone every day throughout the lockdown, and twice during our quarantine she had defied the warnings against elderly citizens leaving their homes to drive to our place and deliver food parcels.

There are images of the pandemic that will forever be part of our cultural memory: the long lines at Centrelink after thousands of Australians lost their jobs; the furious scrambling for goods in the supermarkets; and the desperate faces at the windows of those poor souls in Melbourne’s public estate towers who were sent into cruel and immediate detention when the city lurched haphazardly into a second lockdown.

Related: It’s no accident that Blak Australia has survived the pandemic so well. Survival is what we do | Melissa Lucashenko

Why were we all taking this miracle of flight for granted?

Related: Christos Tsiolkas on Jesus, sex and the power of doubt: ‘I get shivers when I think about it’

It has been a long time since we have faced tragedy collectively

Related: The death of globalisation has been announced many times. But this is a perfect storm | Adam Tooze

Related: Indigenous inequality in spotlight as Australia faces reckoning on race

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