Faith Focus: We need to address inequality between rich and poor

Anne Myles

Anne Myles - Credit: Archant

I was listening to a radio programme recently, and it was debating how the world should change after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Globally there has been an increase in inequality between rich and poor, and countries including the USA and Britain have been considering ways of remedying this.

The programme asked; ‘What do we owe each other in this inequality?’ In the UK, Labour are suggesting a one-off wealth tax on the very rich, and in the USA the suggestion of a five per cent tax on the wealthiest five per cent of Americans, which could raise $2 trillion, has caused the consulting of accountants on how to shift assets to avoid this.

Contributors to the programme generally agreed with a wealth tax, and I am assuming they are not in this wealth bracket. But it was still sad to hear one American contributor proclaim that she owes nothing to anyone, that America was a land of opportunity and people should not rely on the government for handouts.

The most fundamental principle of the Abrahamic faiths is to ‘Love God and love your neighbour as yourself.’

The lockdown has resulted in many, although sadly not all, valuing family and friends more, and celebrating neighbourliness. People have been communicating with the housebound by phone, shopping, and carrying out other acts of kindness, and will continue to do so.

The fact that St Albans has a food bank which has been stretched by the increase in the numbers of families needing basic food, demonstrates that there is an ongoing need for financial support to our community. It isn’t enough to leave the giving to just the wealthy.

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Before the lockdown our church was collecting small items of food for the foodbank FEED and many have continued this.

Volunteers including some from Winter Beds and Centre 33 are cooking remotely in facilities offered by St Saviour’s church and taking hot food to Open Door, for their community and those who drop in.

In a post-COVID world, whether having a religious belief or none there must be an increase in practical neighbourliness.

Anne Myles is a parishioner at St Alban & St Stephen Church in St Albans, and a retired teacher.