Thursday, 1 May 2014

Reflecting on Living Below the Line

There has been an awful lot of support this week, thank you. But more importantly, there have been an awful lot of conversations. I don't need support. It really wasn't a big deal to eat lentils and pasta and toast for 5 days. It was boring and a little sapping, but really no biggie. 
What is a big deal is that I got to drink fresh clean water, not an option for large swathes of the world living in poverty. What is a big deal is that in the UK, one of the wealthiest nations in the world, we have need for food banks, and parents going to bed hungry so their children won't, although they may go to school without breakfast. What is a big deal is that people are having to choose between heating and eating, and are asking food banks for no- cook packages as they don't have the means to heat food. What is a big deal is that it is often faith communities that step in at moments of crisis, but poverty is something so isolating that people don't talk about it. Sometimes until it is too late. 
There is something silly, if not gross, in 'playing' at poverty. It will all be over in 5 days, and I can go back to my marmite and fairtrade bananas. I also didn't need to spend this week worrying about travel costs, childcare, debt collectors, rent/mortgage payments. So I have no idea really. But what it has done (other than raising money to help Tzedek tackle poverty) is open up conversation after conversation about the systems that create poverty, the food we waste, and the realities that are so often kept behind closed doors whilst the anonymous strugglers are vilified and bullied as lazy scroungers. Indeed in the disabled community, while many were physically attacked in the past, this violence is now repeatedly accompanied by cries of 'scrounger!' 
Communities are starting to stand up and ask the right questions of our politicians, and of ourselves, and how our own consuming of cheap food and products adds to the cycles of poverty around us, and how perhaps, we aren't quite all in it together.
If you would like to support the work of Tzedek, this is one simple way to:

2 comments:

  1. I don't know what you think, but it seems to me that another big deal is that churches and synagogues on the whole are not challenging the government and the systems in the way that the Old Testament prophets and Jesus did. We are happy to be seen to be benevolently giving out food parcels, but dare not ask why the poor aren't fed, aren't paid a living wage, or are having their benefits capped when they are only barely enough to live on in the first place. I appreciate some Church and other faith leaders are beginning to do this, but I don't hear the average Christian in this so called Christian country doing so and I suspect it's the same where most people of faith are concerned. Where I live most Christians don't seem to care too much.

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  2. my congregation may be getting bored of me challenging them on this; this need to challenge & speak truth to power!

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