I’ve just returned from the surgery. Blood was taken two weeks ago. I was told today that I would need to make another appointment (the third, therefore) to have blood taken for a test that should have been done but wasn’t. I said ‘why don’t you take the blood now?’ Not allowed. I said ‘give me the needle and I’ll do it myself, here and now.’ I’ve done that often enough before, and I have veins that are easy to find – indeed they positively invite the needle to jump in. The nurse was horrified. So the system requires me to make an extra trip. If I had to take time off work, I would be in difficulty. If I had a physical struggle to get to the surgery, think of what an extra trip might mean. The lady in the surgery said, ‘I’m only doing my job.’ I left feeling that I had not been heard.
‘I’m only doing my job’ is increasingly how we relate to each other. We are not people any more, only cogs in a machine. It is not good. It is the trap that catches all of us who must tick boxes in order to put bread on the table. The unhealthiness of the work culture in which we live. Listen to Psalm 115: ‘They have mouths, and speak not: eyes have they, and see not. They have ears, and hear not: noses have they, and smell not.’ That was written about statues and images, and it seems to me that we are now treated as inanimate statues, unthinking lumps. Whatever happened to the idea that we might relate to one another as people who have opinions and feelings? Rules and regulations kill relationships. The institutional church has too many rules and regulations, but I try and sit as light to them as I possibly can. Jesus talked to people as individuals, and went out of his way to pour scorn on institutions and regulations and jobsworths.
It’s easy to gloat at the downfall of News of the World. It’s interesting to wonder how far the tentacles will extend. To wonder about the connexions between that organisation and political parties, the reasons why daily papers might shift their allegiance from one party to another, the reasons why people like us buy those papers. At least page 3 is clean. So I’m told. A note from Susan: At school, when asked which daily papers my parents took, I replied ‘Guardian and Sunday Times’. Why was I embarrassed to confess the truth: Daily Mirror and NotW? Perhaps because I was a perceptive child who recognised the scandal sheet for what it was. Perhaps.
Some of my parishioners have lost their jobs. 1500 jobs lost recently at one firm in Derby. Many see the bit of their pensions that has not disappeared into the bowels of bankers and their cronies now wafting gently over the rainbow. Some people earn more in a day than others in month, even a lifetime. Life is not fair. There is nothing in Holy Scripture that says it is. There is nothing in Holy Scripture that says we can expect equality, which is maybe a good job since if there were, we should all have to come to terms with the fact that most people in the world are worse off than even us poor souls whose pensions are threatened. Holy Scripture enjoins us to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly, mindfully, with our eyes and hearts open.