Saturday, 22 February 2014

Trampling the head of the poor into the dust of the earth

It wasn't acceptable in the time of Amos (8th century BC) and it isn't acceptable now.
This isn't about party politics.
This isn't about scoring points.
This is about basic morality.
This is about according respect to human beings.
This is about feeding the hungry.
This is about facing up to the fact of our divided society, recognising inequality and injustice and doing something about it.
This is about truth and justice.

The society Amos described was one where the wealthy were complacent, more concerned about maintaining status and power and improving their own economic security than about those who were losing out, When I read Amos I recognise what he describes because I have seen it and heard about it all over Britain.

Wherever I have travelled this year I have asked the same two questions:
Do you have a food bank here?
Have you seen increased need for it?

Wherever I have travelled the answers to both questions have been 'yes'.  I am not hearing about small increases in need; I am hearing about huge leaps in demand and food banks that are struggling to keep up.
I am hearing about generosity of giving in terms of time and food.
I am hearing about, and talking to people who are falling into debt for the first time in their lives because of the 'bedroom tax'.
I am hearing about, and taling to people losing benefit payments because they have not been able to make a phone call, because they have no credit on the phone, because they have no money.
I am hearing about, and talking to people put into accommodation that has no heating and no furniture and no lighting because they have no money to put into the meter.
I have talked to women being exploited because they need money for their families.

Once, when I was a teacher, a colleague described me as a bad tempered Old Testament Prophet when he heard me reprimanding a student who had failed to give in work on time - yet again.
Now, I really am like an angry Old Testament Prophet.
This is not acceptable.
In a country which the Prime Mnister has described as wealthy, we cannot continue to ignore the needs of those who have the least resilience.

I see those affected by poverty becoming poorer.
I see the failure of those in power to acknowledge the facts.

We are trampling the heads of the poor into the dust of the earth and pushing the afflicted out of the way (Amos 2:7).

It isn't acceptable, it is iniquitous and we will continue to challenge political leaders, whatever their party allegiance, because that is what we are called to do as followers of Jesus Christ. Jesus who was anointed to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim the release of captives and to let the oppressed go free (Luke 4:18).



8 comments:

Stephen Leah said...

Thank you for this posting! Very well said!

Christopher Lawton said...

the problem is this needs EVERYONE to sing from the same hymn sheet. The church I am currently at seems to think this coalition government are 'fantastic' (why???) and have fell for the lies spread by the likes of the Daily Mail and that if you are poor then it is because you are lazy and/or stupid.

Annie said...

Well said indeed. But How often do we leave it to others to sort out the problems of our society.

There are many members in our church congregations who are too comfortable to recognise the needs around us. We all need to take a good hard look at the poverty issue and do something about it ourselves-not just wait for others to act.

Alex Crosse said...

I agree with everything that has been said. My concern is how we all get sucked into the easy way of life and we fail to see what is happing closer to home, because... It cant possible happen here!!!

Alex Crosse said...

Agree with everything said.

My concern is how complacent we are. It seems we believe it can't happen here because we are a wealthy country. We must educate ourselves better and understand the issues which are helping this to foster.

Angela said...

I was so pleased to read this. I hope this article has also appeared in the national press. The nation needs Old Testament-style prophets who are brave enough to tell our political leaders how things really are.

Greville Mills said...

Well said, Ruth. I also think more acknowledgement should be made to those who have so generously 'given' gifts of food and personal hygiene goods which make up the 'parcels. When you are receiving these 'gifts' they are often given by people who themselves are not well off. An example of the 'widow's mite' if ever there was one. This government is too full of 'well off' people who really have no conception of living on low wages; those who rely on foodbanks are still seen as 'scroungers' and this aspect of society needs to change. We are all the same in God's sight, so let's start seeing some examples from the top!

Greville Mills said...

Well said, Ruth. I also think more acknowledgement should be made to those who have so generously 'given' gifts of food and personal hygiene goods which make up the 'parcels. When you are receiving these 'gifts' they are often given by people who themselves are not well off. An example of the 'widow's mite' if ever there was one. This government is too full of 'well off' people who really have no conception of living on low wages; those who rely on foodbanks are still seen as 'scroungers' and this aspect of society needs to change. We are all the same in God's sight, so let's start seeing some examples from the top!