Today Emily and I had to go into Glasgow to pick up her new glasses. She has been given these to help her with reading- remarkably, the particular colour of blue they are tinted with seem to increase her reading speed by around 50%. Previously she had somehow coped with words swimming around in her vision- particularly at the ends of lines, making it almost impossible to find her way through dense blocks of text without huge effort. How she managed so well up till now is a mystery to all of us.
Anyway, this also meant that my pointedly deferred shopping expedition sort of came back to haunt me. Emily needed a new dress for her birthday meal with friends at the weekend so we went out into the crowds of Buchannan street- in the middle of all the Christmas madness.
But I am not less appalled by it all.
If anything could sum it all up for me it is this-
I read this poster in the toilets in St Enochs Square shopping centre. (OK- Emily noticed the same thing and this poster was in the ladies loo. She took this photograph. Obviously.)
Whilst I was reading the poster, two young lads came in. They hovered a little- it was crowded, and they were encumbered by sleeping bags and rucksacks. It was obvious by that they were rough sleepers, in for a clean up and a bit of warmth.
The contrast with this poster seemed great at first- then less so. The edges of this credit driven culture we have created can be seen in both the poster and these rough sleeping young men. It suddenly seemed to me all about disconnection.
Disconnection from one another- from community and place. Disconnection from the means of production, and from the land that sustains us. Disconnection from the spirit of man, and from the Spirit of the Living God.
What madness is it that makes us still think that we can keep making money from plastic cards and using it to buy ever more stuff? What crazyness drives us to feed our addiction for more credit even by desperate measures like this- trying to screw more money out of banks who have already brought us all to the edge of the abyss by lending too much of the stuff?
As if the best we can now hope for was this last loophole through which we might get a little more free money.
Last week in Dunoon, one of the ‘hole in the wall’ cash machines went wrong, and started paying out double the money that people requested. Pretty soon, the word got out and a queue formed down the street. The bank, in panic, asked the police to come, just to turn people away.
Not a good advert for the people of our town, even if we might regard the banks as fair game given their impact on the economy. But perhaps none of us are that different- who could ever turn down some free money?