blessed are the poor

Posted in opinion on December 27th, 2009 by george

I’ve never been a big fan of shopping. For me the impetus is need rather than want. Only when I really have to, do I shop. When that moment arrives, I find what is required as quickly as possible and buy it. Leaving the store, or these days, website, is the only enjoyable part for me. I always have something better to do.

I also prefer to shop alone. There are people I love who like nothing better than ambling slowly through displays of goods, stopping many times to pick up and handle items on offer, things they often wouldn’t dream of buying.  A trip to buy milk and bread, winds up being an extended market research project. Not for me! I have ruined more than one relationship, foolishly accepting a casual invitation to accompany someone I like, shopping. In no time at all, I don’t like them as much.

This is one way in which the poor are blessed. I am fortunate to be part of a Western society wherein even the poorest are by comparison very wealthy in the eyes of millions of Asian, South American or African people. Nonetheless, within this society I am definitely one of the ‘have-nots’. Mostly this does not concern me, but the pressure to change is relentless. Every wile and seductive measure is marshalled to persuade me to get more and better stuff, without which I am to consider myself inadequate.

The poorer a person is, the further are such desires from that person’s mind. For the millions of dispossessed around the world, the hunger for something, anything, to eat, and a place to lay their head down for the night keep them busy enough. For them, the choices our consumer society confound themselves with are laughable. They have none of these options, so why dwell on the impossible? Deprived of material advantage, they quite naturally find solace in the world around them, the people in it, and spiritual concerns. Blessed indeed…

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I live in a shopping mall

Posted in opinion, rants on December 6th, 2009 by george

st catherine'sI live in the old English university town of Cambridge. Along the river Cam, are some of the most beautiful old buildings in Europe. A trip I never tire of is a punt ride down this river, from which vantage point, the buildings are perhaps best admired. Far from the traffic, the lapping of water against the side of the boat as one drifts past the colleges that have stood there for so long has a deeply calming effect.

mathematicalThis is indeed a venerable ‘seat of learning’. Great men and women have studied, researched and taught here for centuries. Many students have gone on to become world leaders or captains of industry. The feeling of proximity to the ‘corridors of power’ is tangible.

Yet on a trip to town on Monday, it was all to easy to forget this side of Cambridge. Read more »

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