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May 19th, 2012

Dandy

Gobsmacked!

I was gobsmacked: I'd never actually come across the attitude face to face before though sadly I did know it existed. I was collecting for Christian Aid, a charity that works throughout the world to help the poorest of the poor help themselves.The motto that I remember goes back to the seventies...."give a man a fish and you feed him for a day:teach a man to fish and you feed him for the rest of his life.".....the aim is to help others help themselves
...and I knocked on the door and was answered by a man about my own age,give or take ten years, and he looked at me and said he didn't know how I could go and ask for money when....and he listed off some of the problems facing Britain. He said he was gobsmacked that I could stand there and ask....and that was my turn to be gobsmacked.....I hope I was polite when I told him he was entitled to his opinion but it was his opinion....as I went away from the house primary aged kids hung out of the windows and hollered at me...no idea what they said but that had never happened to me before either.
"One World." We live in "One world" and we have a shared responsibility for that world. If you don't believe me then look in your kitchen cupboards and your wardrobes and see where the things we enjoy and take for granted so often come from. I can buy a pineapple for a pound that has been transported half way across that world and that pound has to pay for the transport and the supermarket's costs and profits and the grower....what does he get from that pound? There are those of us who support the Fairtrade movement who say that the growers ought to get a fair deal but that is another issue.
So how could I stand there?....well poverty is relative. I grew up on a council estate but I went to school with children from "The Avenues", their parents were University lecturers, surgeons,doctors,teachers business owners and the like:with homes where there were cars and som,e of them would have had people to clean. My dad went to work on a bike and my mum went out to clean.Within the community I grew up in I knew what it was to be poor and my parents struggled to keep us fed and clothed, and there were times when mum went without so that we could go to school fed and tidy, but that was in the Welfare State years of the fifties and I went on to University and then some and my subject was Geography and I learned about the world we all live in....and I met with people from all over the world...admittedly not the poorest of the poor but some of the elite of their countries but they were different but human and I learned to like and respect some of them as I learned to like and respect a range of my own countrymen, not all of whom had grown up on a council estate.
It was the generation of Anti Apartheid and Ban the Bomb and Frelimo and I attended rallies in Trafalgar Square (quite unintentionally but I stood and listened and heard) and listened to revolutionaries or would be revolutionaries at Hyde Park Corner and discovered that my world was more diverse than I had imagined.
And now after a career in the church, teaching others about the love that God has for each one of his people and the response that we should make to that love,now I have the time to read further into the conditions of parts of that world and I do, and I read of oppression and poverty amd children raking through rubbish tips for scraps of plastic to sell so that they might have a little food, and women(it is usually the women) walking miles to get enough water to cook with...and I am glad that there are people in this mad world who want to do something about that and that is why I support Christian Aid (and there are other charities doing similar work equally worthy...but I have chosen Christian Aid) and that is why in the era of sponsored walks I walked miles for sponsorship and now that is why I give of my own money and why I ask others in however small a way to give some of theirs....and sometimes perhaps they give because they want to support Christian Aid and sometimes they give because they feel it would be impolite to refuse and sometimes they give to get me from the door and some people say they don't want to give, they give elsewhere, they don't share the vision....but to say they are gobsmacked and don't know how I can stand there and ask......
That leaves me gobsmacked.