This the script of a radio Thought for the Day which I didn’t broadcast yesterday:

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, it’s just possible you haven’t grasped the situation.” So wrote Jean Kerr in 1957 in her introduction to Please don’t eat the Daisies. Well, it’s one way of looking at a crisis, I suppose.

Of course, one of the most used words these days is just that: crisis. And it appears usually to describe a very negative state of affairs – one full of challenge and despair.

However, the word seems to derive from the latinised form of the Greek ‘krisis’ which indicates ‘judgement’. The verb ‘krinein’ means “to separate, judge or decide”. Which all sheds a different light not only on the word, but also on the situation in which we find ourselves.

“Never waste a crisis!” we hear – often, I suspect, from people who don’t have to endure one. But, if ‘crisis’ refers to a point of decision or judgement, then it might be worth dwelling on it for a moment.

In the New Testament Jesus speaks of judgement in terms of the need for a decision which will impact on the whole of life. Whether or not to follow him and see the world through his eyes was more than a lifestyle choice. It wasn’t that his disciples were offered a range of fulfilment options from which they could choose the most appealing. Rather, they were offered something rather sharp: follow me – in this uncertain world which you can’t actually control – and you will probably end up, like me, on a cross.

Or, in the words of that epic speech in Trainspotting, “choose life” by facing up to what you decide really matters when all is stripped away and, faced with your own mortality, you have to choose which way to go. Or whom to follow.

I find this particularly poignant this month because it is 75 years since the execution of the young German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. His theological ethics told him he shouldn’t kill; but he was implicated in the failed bomb plot to kill Hitler. He had to choose. And he faced the cost of that choice before making it.

In the current pandemic crisis the choices might seem less stark. But, they still have to do with life and death – not least whose death might be acceptable; they have to do with that fundamental question about whether the economy serves society or people the economy; they have to do with choosing how to take responsibility for re-ordering society in the future on the basis of a better and more humane vision for the world.

I think one place to start might be to consider the impact of this pandemic on people in countries where they do not have the resources to do what we can choose to do in the UK. Our choice will indicate whether we love our neighbour or not.