• And so this is Christmas 2016 19 December 2016 | View comments

  • 19th December 2016 | By David Jolley

    When she found that I was eating a sandwich of cheese and strawberry jam, my lovely wife had no hesitation in declaring. ‘That is wrong! Just wrong!’

    I am sensitive to my wife’s views but I shall continue to enjoy this personalised, simple pleasure which gives instant sweetness and enduring energy. But what I am pleased about is her judgement, not this was an illogical or uneconomic thing to be doing, but ‘wrong’!

    On Wednesday evening I had sought quiet and controlled company and snoozed before the TV channel which gives the day’s activity in parliament. It was as if directed by forces ‘other’ for the discussion or debate was addressing the situation which is causing me and many others, grief as we approach. This is that the wealth of our nation is being distributed purposefully so that those who are already well off get more and those who are struggling get less and less. Older people who require help because of physical or mental frailty are squeezed for any money they might have and councils, rightly responsible for helping those of limited means, are shackled by governments cuts and rules so that they cannot afford what any civilised society will deem appropriate.

    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/dec/12/birmingham-council-chief-years-of-cuts-could-have-catastrophic-consequences

    What is true for Birmingham is surely true for Trafford and for all authorities in this country. The caring Members of Parliament rehearsed their observations and dismay at length. One gave thanks for the work of charities. But charities patch holes where informed planning would have provided a seamless service. ‘Seamless service’ a term which sounds so elegant and reassuring. What does it mean? I have always thought it to be a cynical celebration of services which are just about enough, but might fail if under strain because there is no spare. One of my most satisfying afternoons saw a study group at the Royal College of Physicians asked to compare the durability of working jeans and a bespoke suit of the finest cloth. When the going gets tough a generous overlap is good security.

    The arguments rehearsed are confined to currently modish considerations of logic and economics. Even within their parameters the present persecution of the poor and needy makes no sense, though the parliamentary debate seemed ill disposed to say so.

    The plain truth is that, unlike my cheese and jam sandwich, this is morally and ethically wrong. It is against the tenets of Christianity and every other Faith.

    Ghandi gave us. ‘Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not enough for everyman’s greed’.

    Christmas has become a celebration of giving and receiving. Can this Christmas be a time to confront this wrong and put us all back in a right relationship to the world we have, the people within it, and the greater truths which have been known in the wisdom of centuries.

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