And so, finally we reach the last of the seven deadly sins; gluttony. Usually the word gluttony is associated with food and the consuming thereof.
The glutton eats more than his fill, taking from the comunnual pot and leaving barely a crust in his wake. The Victorians loved a good glutton, the personable parson high on roast goose and potatoes….the black toothed landlady shoving fistfuls of bon bons down her throat and the jolly judge feasting on trifles and truffles.
Excess in all its sweet and savoury glory was, for Dickens, the perfect metaphor of an unjust society. Tiny Tim’s lustful gaze at the Christmas goose and plum pudding eaten by his ‘betters’ sums up the imbalance between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’.
The image of the starving child, face pressed against the window of an upmarket restaurant while the fat gentry spill gravy on their silk cravats has become a familiar symbol of not only the Dickensian world but of our own.
Modern society has thankfully evolved since the time of workhouses, undeserving poor and transport ships and yet still in Europe there is a growing crisis of poverty which if not checked will lead to the ruin of us all.
That food banks still exist today is a sin. Families forced to choose between heat and food is a stark game of survival played out every day in the wealthiest of nations. The cliche of the fat politician feasting on the gains of the labouring classes is as relevant today as it was during Dickens’ time.
Tabloids bemoan the greedy, grasping hands of the benefit poor…”Let them not eat cake”…they shout…”let them work harder for their pittance”…Scroungers, fraudsters, reprobates, worthless and obscene with their track suits and their 50 fatherless offspring poised for attack.
Meanwhile MPs are routinely receiving handouts left right and centre. Food expenses, living expenses, clothing allowances and travel expenses all paid for with our taxes.
The least deserving or needing of help get the most (including tax breaks) and those who work in valuable but underpaid service (Nurses, Firefighters, Care Workers etc etc ) still cannot feed their families, are reviled and vilified and have become the modern day scapegoat or Frankenstein Monster the bete noir of the collective nightmare.
While we growl and snarl at the unemployed, the old, the sick and disabled we are turning a convenient blind eye to the real perpetrators of inequality the real gluttons who soak up our collective wealth and squander it with barely a thought to the consequences.
It is a most clever sleight of hand. A distraction from the knowledge that it is us who hold the power and we who can enable change thus creating a fairer more balanced society….and balance in all things creates harmony, wellbeing, stability and happiness.
The measure of a good society is the way it treats its oldest and its youngest. In this we all have a duty of care.
Toodle Pip good people.