Walk any city in the evening and you will see people in shop doorways settling for the night. Huddling, or lying prostrate. Walk any side street or back alley and the stench of stale urine will rise to greet your nostrils.
Travel early in those cities and you will see, wrapped in sleeping bag cocoons or under piles of cardboard, those not yet risen. Some you will see with large bags or shopping trolleys to transport their worldly belongings. The lucky ones may have been left a coffee by a passer by or by a charitable agency.
Walk any city during the day and you will see an array of cardboard notices outlining each individual’s plight; some held, some lying by cap or cloth on the pavement. Or you will encounter those seeking some loose change or perhaps a spare cigarette.
This seems to me to be getting worse. More people with less. More living at the edge of humanity.
Yet, for the most part, we walk by. Perhaps increasing our pace or looking away to avoid eye contact. Maybe it’s shame? Maybe it’s fear. Maybe it’s security? Or maybe we simply can’t face what is happening around us?
What has gone wrong?
Saw a property advertised here the other day.
Just over $4,000,000
That money gets you a lot of property and land, plus… 10.9 bathrooms apparently.
Money buys accuracy too it seems. For when bathrooms exceed ten, you move to measure them in decimals, naturally.
How much do we need, really? And has it become too much?
Today is pancake day, or Shrove Tuesday. In some cultures referred to as Mardi Gras. Translatable from the French as “Fat Tuesday”.
Today is the day before the fasting period of Lent, marked by Ash Wednesday, tomorrow.
An age old period of gluttony before fasting. Fatty foods consumed in excess, party and celebration before a period of reflection and abstinence. Highs and lows. Excess and frugality. Glut and lack.
A time perhaps to review areas of our lives where we have abundance and insufficiency? The things we should be grateful for? The things we might share? The things we aspire to have more of? Where we might strive to change the balance?
A time perhaps to reflect on ourselves and others. Neighbours, strangers, those from another society or culture? Haves and have nots? The wealthy few and the impoverished many? The lavishness of the world and the poverty that still shackles it?
If you are having pancakes today, or any other form of indulgence, enjoy.
But pause in a moment’s reflection perhaps?