Our Food for Thought Programme volunteers at St Augustine's, Dumbarton went into fits of laughter after reading one of the stories carried today in The National. It was either laughter or tears of frustration. We chose to laugh!
The story is basically about our Government, and Ian Duncan Smith in particular, looking for new targets in an effort to lower the cost of our benefits system. It seems that those struggling with alcohol and drug problems as well as others who are obese face having their benefits stopped under draconian new welfare plans being considered by Iain Duncan Smith.
Part of our work is giving food to the hungry, those who have been sanctioned, and others who are not entitled to a penny from the Government. (Yes, there are people living in our community who get absolutely nothing). We now face the problem of obese people coming to our Foodshare looking for food because their benefits have been stopped!
How will we respond to this? One way is to size them up and judge them with the unspoken thought, "Aye, well you could do with losing a few pounds right enough", or we can treat them in the same way as anyone else is referred, and that is, "How would Jesus respond?"
Is this a valid way of addressing the health or addiction issues of a minority of people on benefits? People need to be supported back into the workforce, and not supported by the welfare non-system into poverty.
As my Associate Priest often says, "You gotta laugh", but today I've stopped laughing. We are now going after the obese! Who will be next? (Remember you are only allowed two children these days).
I'm predicting it's going to be pensioners. I may be wrong, but we may soon come to the point that those of a certain age will be means tested before receiving the State Pension they have paid for, supposedly, all through their working life. I only hope I'm wrong, but, hey, who would have thought that the obese would be a target group?
Wednesday, 29 July 2015
I've just noticed that it's been almost twelve months since I blogged anything. Not that I blog much of significance anyway, but with a new football season coming up, and my growing anger on poverty issues in the UK at the moment, now may be a good time to start again.
I guess I was seduced away by Facebook, as have so many, and now the only real Bloggers that remain are darned good ones who tend to specialise on one subject or another! On the contrary, I'm all over the place. Always have been!
One of the reasons I'm back today, I guess, is that there have been hints of my lack of communication. I run two websites, am constantly on Facebook, sometimes use Twitter, and publish weekly pew sheets for two congregations and a colourful, newsy Parish Magazine. I actually thought that I was communicating quite well. Perhaps not, however, when I look at large chunks of the folk I really want to communicate with.
I read an excellent piece about a fortnight ago, titled, "An iPhone Priest in a Typewriter Congregation". It certainly brought me up short, for very few in my congregations use Facebook, Twitter or look at websites, however important these things may be in modern communication and basic IT.
Pew sheets are easily discarded without being properly read, and folk skim through magazines and miss a lot. That's modern world trends, where we don't sit down to read properly.
This leaves the spoken word, and that doesn't reach many. Through Chinese Whispers, that, too, can be distorted. In saying that, texts and Facebook posts along with Tweets can always be perceived in a different manner in which you wrote them, and a smiley face doesn't stop anyone believing your 'joke' was anything other than a barbed comment!
We live in difficult days, yet in days when communication can be instant and information at our fingertips. Some of my typewriter friends long for the day when an angry letter could be written in the evening, but in the morning, we decide it's not really something we should put in the hands of a postman!
And, aye, there's something in that!