As the storms keep coming and the flood waters keep rising in the south of England; and rain keeps falling on us all, voices have been demanding to know why more has not been done to protect people and property from the devastation being caused by Climate Change. Understandably, a great deal of anger has been vented as homes, shops, churches, vehicles et al have been overwhelmed by floodwater.
All of it is too late, of course. Homes and other properties were knowingly built on flood-plains. Now, people are suffering the consequences and it is not, at all, pleasant. Environmental specialists are advising that it will be months before displaced folk will be able to return to their homes, if at all. People are saying that their lives have been ruined since appropriate insurance was too expensive for them ever to contemplate.
The Government and Environmental Agency are in an impossible position. They do what they reasonably can, but what can be done against the worst climatic conditions we have experienced for over two hundred years ? No matter that, literally, a whole army of people have been mobilised to combat the danger to life and threat to the nation’s commerce this flooding presents: no quick fix is ever going to be possible.
With that realisation, it has been good to hear that people have banded together in their local communities to try to identify those facing the greatest danger and to help each other in their need. Supported by members of the Emergency Services and the military, individual householders, shopkeepers and others have quickly understood that their strength lies in a sense of togetherness: each looking out for the other, especially the elderly and those most vulnerable. Someone said to me, ‘It’s Britain at its best’.
I would like to think it is ‘humanity’ at its best.
Looking out for each other, whoever the ‘other’ might be; taking care of those less able than ourselves; reaching out to strangers as well as friends; regarding everyone as our neighbour – is surely the responsibility of all of us who regard ourselves as part of a civilised Society. All the more so should we be part of the community of Christian Church.
Around Bothwell, we have been fortunate. Rain has certainly fallen, but we have not had to endure terrible flooding like so many others. The consequences of Climate Change may not be the most pressing problem faced by our neighbour, colleague or kith and kin. Maybe its quite another kind of devastation that people around us are daily having to endure.
Poverty, loneliness, ill-health, obesity, addiction, abuse, old-age, broken relationships, guilt. These are just some of the nightmares with which people struggle in every community.
As we continue our faithful witness to the faith we hold, the quietly desperate needs of many people challenge us to provide the healing and comforting touch of friendship to them.
To fail in such a task would be a disgrace.
Minister of Bothwell
Interim Moderator at
Hamilton: Gilmour & Whitehill Parish Church