Contrasts Index Home

Do you remember the summer?  Although you will be reading this in October, the requirements of "Chatterbox" deadlines mean that I am writing at the very end of the summer holiday season.  The sky outside is patchy blue as my children enjoy the last couple of days of their school break.  Earlier in the holiday our family went across the channel for a camping trip.  Our first week was spent on the Atlantic coast of France , in an area where the temperature was over 40 degrees for a few days. We didn't have the energy to keep up our usual programme of local visits, spending more time than usual just sitting in the shade reading or playing some non-energetic card game!  

But we were enjoying ourselves, despite the heat.  This wasn't the case for everyone.  You may well remember there was an enquiry by the French government in August into the way some thousands of people, particularly elderly people, appeared to have died as a result of not being able to withstand the high temperatures.  We went on our holiday and came back, largely unaware of what had happened. We probably drove past homes where someone had died in the heat.  One contrast.

A friend of mine who was on holiday in Scotland this summer much enjoyed driving up the amazing road that goes through Glencoe.  But it made him stop and think when he later heard on the news that as he drove up the glen, one of the adjacent ridges was the scene of a family tragedy as a father and daughter fell down the mountainside, roped together.  The beauty of the rugged landscape viewed from below takes the breath away.  But this very ruggedness became the cause of sadness and disaster - death for one of the climbers.  Another contrast.

In each of these extreme cases we were unable to know at the time that, while we were enjoying ourselves, other people were suffering not too far away.  We weren’t ignoring those who needed our help.  However, there are other contrasts we could point at every day of our lives.  Contrasts between the way we are able to live and the way others are forced to live.  When we see a contrast or an injustice, it should make us think, and we should try to do something about it.

Some of the simplest lessons that Jesus taught were about the contrasts he saw.  Between rich and poor.  Between the well-fed and the hungry.  And also between those who thought they knew how they should live their lives and those who went looking for a better way.

What’s the lesson?  Perhaps simply not to assume that our way is the only way, perhaps to count our blessings and realise how well off we really are.  Perhaps to think of others more often, look to see their situations, and act on what we see.

(c) Copyright Bill Young 2003