Along with quite a few others I am using Maggi Dawn’s book “Giving it up” as the basis for my Lent reading and reflection this year. Two days in and already I am feeling rather challenged – in a good way. Maggi points out that our fasting needs to be more than a display of personal discipline. It needs to lead to changes in our own attitudes and behaviour which can then make a real difference in the world out there.
Yesterday I noticed that a friend had joined a facebook group in support of a “Robin Hood Tax“. Nothing wrong with that. It is an initiative to persuade the UK government (and others) to levy a tiny amount of tax on bankers’ transactions on products like hedge funds. the percentage proposed is very small – 0.05% in fact – but the estimated revenue would be hundreds of billions of pounds which could then be put to use to address issues of poverty in the developing world. Support for this is growing, though many of the comments left on the group page suggested that even this tiny amount would drive financial services companies away from the UK unless all governments did the same.
My thoughts on this led in two directions: firstly, that we can wait for ever if we wait for others to make the first move. If it is right to do something which will improve life for the world’s poorest now, is it right to wait?
My second thought was that it is too easy to support something that seems to cost us nothing, especially when done with just a click of a mouse button. The tax is presented as applying only to bankers – the “rich”. Yet those of us who have bank accounts and other financial products all participate in the same system. The Christian season of Lent challenges us to put our own money and efforts where our mouths are and make changes to ourselves (with God’s help) to make a change for others.