We have recently been informed about the comprehensive review which is about to be undertaken (over 5 years) about inequalities in the United Kingdom. The review will be exploring areas such as economic, political, education, health inequality and the effects of globalisation. All these have come together to raise concerns across all walks of life and the review is meant to try and find ways in which these inequalities can be addressed.
I am not sure where the politicians have been over the past 20 or so years (or perhaps they have been distracted by Brexit) but the issues of inequalities have been part of our society for years. I can recall in my days with Health and Social Care a paper was produced by Dr Michael Marmot in 2010 which examined the inequalities in health. It was entitled ‘Fair Society, Healthy Lives’.
The review highlighted that society could go a long way in achieving remarkable improvement in health by giving more people the life chances currently enjoyed by the few. Only back then the fear of immigration, open borders and leaving the European Union were not at the fore front of policy decisions.
As Christians we have been aware of inequalities in our society since the beginning of our faith narrative. The story in Genesis 4:1-10, of Cain and Able reminds us of what could happen when one person feels marginalised or ‘hard done by’. Both brothers presented their gifts to God and Abel was shown favour by God.
Cain feeling that his gift was worthy of more praise decided to kill his brother and bury him. Later when God came calling and enquiring about Abel, the conversation between God and Cain raised two questions which I believe are very relevant for us today in our context.
Am I my brother’s keeper?
What have you done? (This could be taken as a rhetorical question)
So as we reflect on the growing inequalities in our society, let us turn our thoughts to Jesus’ conversation with his disciples on the night before he died.
Jesus said “I give you a new command. Love one another. You must love one another, just as I have loved you. If you love one another, everyone will know you are my disciples.” (John 13:34)
So let us demonstrate that practical love, so that others may see that we have taken action and that our love for our brother and sister runs deep in the heart of God.
Rev Zaidie Orr, Sheffield Team Minister