Successful Banks

I may be on sabbatical, but I'm not completely lounging around with my feet up... just taking a break from my circuit, connexional and chaplaincy responsibilities, freeing me up to to a few of the things that I enjoy doing and more reading and writing. Hence it was that I still found myself sitting in the green room of BBC Radio Ulster this morning at stupid o'clock to do the following Thought for the Day (for the next week you can listen to it here at 25 and 85 minutes in) It's on a theme I've been touching on more than once here recently...

Last week a number of banks posted their annual trading results, and as has been the case every year recently, the figures have been uniformly in the red… However, that hasn’t stopped bank executives being awarded hefty performance related bonuses, on the grounds that the losses weren’t as bad as last year! It strikes me that it’s a weird world where we don’t cap the bonuses of the bankers who got us into this mess, but do cap benefits to those at the bottom of the pile.

The only banks that really seem to be success stories these days are Foodbanks… The Trussell Trust network of foodbanks has grown from feeding around 2,800 people in 2006 to around 130,000 last year… As such they are both the epitome of David Cameron’s much vaunted Big Society, but also a dramatic challenge to the economic policies of his government…

I’m not seeking to make a political point here… at least not a party political one… but it reminds me of the inequalities and injustices, not only in this country of ours, but in the world as a whole… Especially when it comes to the issue of access to food…

In the run up to the G8 summit in Fermanagh in June, a number of Global Aid Agencies are coming together to mount the If campaign: suggesting that there would be enough food for everyone in the world IF a number of policies were changed concerning aid, land use, taxation and corporate transparency… It’s been mentioned on Radio Ulster and on Thought for the Day before, but apart from signing up for such a campaign, what can we as individuals do in the face of such need?

Once Jesus’ disciples criticised a woman who had shown compassion to their master by bathing his head in expensive perfume; they said she was being wasteful and could have sold the perfume and given the proceeds to the poor.

Jesus’ famous response was “The poor you will have with you always, but you won’t always have me.”

And we still have the poor with us… globally and locally. But in saying that Jesus wasn’t arguing for apathy in the face of poverty and injustice… nor for naked self-interest…

Rather an implication of what he said is that we shouldn’t sacrifice local, personal acts of compassion in the face of the big issues…

What difference will a tin of beans being given to a local foodbank make to the problem of global poverty? On its own, not a lot… But it marks a change of mindset and may stop the stomach of a local child rumbling…

Shalom

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