For a long time, and even though I am now in my 40’s, I have struggled with an inferiority complex; it’s not always with me, and I am not always thinking about it, but it has been with me for a number of years.
It might have something to do with my background, which is very Working class and quite poor, although not poverty-stricken. If the society we live in devalues some of those people who live in that society, whether through class hierarchy, racism, blatant sexism, religious intolerance or whatever that helps create the ‘deserving’ and the ‘undeserving’, can we then honestly wonder when parts of that society are lacking moral vision, self-worth and are basically in many ways dysfunctional? Not all people for sure, but many who for whatever reason don’t make the grade.
Christians must ask such questions and think about such issues because they affect millions of people, and ultimately they affect the societies we live in, sometimes in many ways. There is injustice in the UK, even though I believe there doesn’t need to be. Much of the injustice is really economic injustice; some people have more than they could honestly spend in a hundred lifetimes, and others are continually struggling with poverty, or near poverty. When you are poor, it can and often does affect all kinds of other issues in your life, and it limits your life chances too. I hated growing up poor, living with the usual inevitable reality that if there was something I wanted or something I wanted to do, if it involved money then I had to forget about it. As a result of this, I have endeavoured all my adult life never to live beyond my means, and to learn for the most part to be frugal, and to save and not waste money. I’m not rich, but I’m not particularly poor now either; my needs are met.
As an adult, I wouldn’t say that I am now so poor, but I am certainly not wealthy now that’s for certain. I live within my means; I think all people should regardless of their financial position.
There are serious issue around the debate of poverty in the UK. Our society became wealthy simply because some people viciously exploited other people. In the, not even so distant, past, this was only too evident in the slave trade and the opium trade and the Scramble for Africa and the factory system, to name but four. In these ‘trades’ or circumstances , some people made absolute fortunes whilst at the same time making many other people wretched, people who were ruthlessly exploited with no concern for the repercussion for such actions. The Class system in Britain was formed in such exploitation, and racism in America likewise. The end result? Injustice, which still plays a part in many wealthy societies.
If we are looking at injustice in the UK, then all sorts of questions could be asked; whether they can be answered, is another question, but I believe that if we sweep it all under the carpet, hoping it will all somehow go away, we only store up problems for the future. We have lived in this falsehood in the UK for many years; we are not the only nation practising double-standards, but English prejudice and hypocrisy is one I understand the most coming from England myself.
For the most part, class is just not an issue debated in British, certainly English, society. There could be many reasons for that. Also, class in Britain ‘straitjackets’ people; it makes people who might not be particularly anything pretend to be Middle class and put on a phoney accent and false airs, or pretend to be Working class and put on a false accent; whichever way, it can take away a person’s unique individuality. Aside from this, it creates prejudices and animosities that really should have no place in a modern dynamic society like the UK.
The recent riots in England I think suggests that among many people there is a lack of morality and consideration for other people, but this affects the whole of society; the people in power really don’t seem to care about ordinary people; this basic lack of care trickles down to all levels of society. In higher up circles, those who are wealthy or powerful or influential in some way, the people at the top are cushioned from the indifference they create by high salaries and living in pleasant leafy suburbs and having nice careers to fall back on. At the bottom of society, where reality bites, this can create people who are amoral and who are only in it for themselves; but how is this any different from most of the people who rule us? When we take away the very thin veneer of respectability from society, and look underneath, the reality isn’t a pretty sight. There is indifference and lack of care for people who are poor and struggling in life; and this, eventually, causes problems.
Most people don’t have a purpose in life; they are not set on any course or have any vision; they drift. Most people might not be rebels without a cause, but rebels without a course; a course in life. Speaking for myself, I find that God gives me a reason for living and getting up in the morning; I have purpose and it does make a difference.
When I turned my back on God, many years ago now, I was a rebel, a rebel without a cause, and without hope really either. Individuals, and nations, abandon God, and godly values, at their peril. I know that if you don’t believe in God, a God who created everything, that this won’t mean much to you, but it’s what I believe, through experience of Him in my life. God’s laws are there to lead us to a better life, one where we are actually free, not hindered by unhelpful sin or a lack of values. Some people might say that we are free when we can do anything we like without regard to other people or God; the riots proved that this is nonsense; when people disregard other people, chaos ensues.
Without God in my life I was struggling to make sense of it all, and struggling to make sense of the emptiness and futility at the centre of my life at that time. It took me a long time to realise that what I was missing was the God I had abandoned. We might think we are free to do what we like without God, but it’s not real freedom, and in my experience it leads nowhere; to unhappiness, bitterness and regret. Thankfully, God is merciful; He knows we are sinful and can make mistakes, even big mistakes, and I’ve made some beauties in my time! But that was a long time ago.
If I can walk humbly with God after all my waywardness, rebellion and stupidity, then anyone can. I believe even that God has called me to write about Him to other people who may be in the dark as I was, not because I am some wonderful holy person, but because in many ways I was the exact opposite of that; a messed up, confused and unhappy person forever wondering who I was and what I was supposed to be. Now? I just try to serve the Lord.