Justin Webb is a BBC reporter who appears on TV and broadcasts on the Radio. He occasionally writes for Radio Times, too, and in a recent article, a few weeks ago, he told how the Webb Family woke up one morning to find a blooming great builder’s lorry had bashed a hole in the side of their house. More recently he’s related how the same firm who own the lorry have returned to make good the hole in the house. He notes they are now members of something called “The Considerate Constructors Scheme”. Of course, having this new affiliation makes no difference to the Webb family although he jokes that it might have been better knowing that the lorry that opened up the side of his house came from a considerate constructor!
He goes on to make the very valid point that we are, today, surrounded by assurances of quality, of green credentials, of companies/government departments/other organisations who are falling over themselves to tell us all how much they “care”. When making certain ‘phone enquiries I am irritated to be told – by a recorded message no less – how important my call is; then to be kept waiting for an age anyway.
Our society at the moment appears to be an age of bland reassurance by all and sundry and, while politeness is always preferable to rudeness, it should never be an excuse to fob people off. Companies and government departments should earn our trust; not tell us how lucky we are to be giving them our money!
I often wonder what Jesus would have made of all this. The rich countries are all patting themselves on the back telling each other how good they are while much of the rest of the world looks on in disbelief. We have huge movements of displaced people across the world, almost always because of our inhumanity to one another, in numbers not seen since the Second World War. And now we are in the year commemorating the beginning of the First World War. And that was billed as ‘the war to end all wars’. Tell that to the people of Northern Iraq or Syria or any of the world’s myriad places of unrest.
Talking is always preferable to combat but platitudinous claptrap at all levels is just so much hot air. ‘Jaw, jaw not war, war’ is attributed to Winston Churchill – although accounts vary since it appears not to have been written down at the time – but action must follow words. All the assurances in the world are worthless if they only stay assurances. Humanity is not a discussion; it is, ultimately, how we treat each other. Or how we mistreat them. Christ showed no partiality: he treated all as God’s valued and cherished children even to the point of giving His life. He wasn’t all talk.