Simon Duffy

Thoughts, Bemusements & Arguments

Date: 3rd February 2012

The Rich need the Poor

The Scotsman reported on 3rd February 2012:

High-earning migrants and promising student entrepreneurs will find it easier to work in Britain as the coalition aims to ensure only “the right people are coming here”, the Immigration Minister has said. Damian Green, a Conservative MP, said middle managers, unskilled labourers and benefit seekers would be kept out as the coalition seeks only migrants who “add to the quality of life in Britain.”

When politicians tell us that the only immigrants that will be welcome are those who will make a positive contribution and then goes on to exclude ‘middle managers, unskilled labourers and benefit seekers’ I am left wondering:

Does Damian Green believe that the millions of existing citizens in the UK who are middle managers, manual workers (I will drop the term ‘unskilled’ as nobody is unskilled) and people who rely on benefits (and there goes another tale) don’t add to the quality of life in Britain?

Together these groups represent more than half of the UK population. So, on this basis, Damian Green believes that most people in the UK don’t add to the quality of life. I hate to think where he would put disabled people or people with poor health.

The prevalent philosophical belief – rampant in all political parties – is in meritocracy: that the best should rule. They are the best (in their own heads at least) and the rest of us should be grateful for the great efforts they make on our behalf. In their imaginings: they contribute, we take.

Of course we are left with the paradox faced by all meritocrats – they need us to rule over and they need us to do all the things they think are beneath them. At its worst such thinking leads to eugenics – and we are certainly slipping down that slope.

I am reminded of a thought by someone much wiser, Rebbe Shmelke, who said:

The rich need the poor more than the poor need the rich. Unfortunately, neither is conscious of it.

Sufficient unto the Day

Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Matthew 6:34

nolite ergo esse solliciti in crastinum
crastinus enim dies sollicitus edit sibi ipse
sufficit diei malitia sua

Vulgate

I love the phrase from the King James Bible: ‘sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.’ When things look really black and worries pile high it helps to remember that you only have to focus on what is in front of you now.

Two things are also worth noticing about this saying from Jesus.

First, although the King James translation talks about having ‘no thought for the morrow’ the Vulgate says ‘don’t be worried about tomorrow’ and this seems more realistic. We have to plan – in so far as is reasonable – to avoid any additional evils that the tomorrow may bring. But we don’t have to bear the burden of them as worries.

Second, there is no doubt that tomorrow may bring evil – and this is something to worry about – there and then. Jesus is not a stoic; he is not saying that bad things don’t matter or that they are only a function of our desires and aspirations. For Christians the world should be good and our best aspirations and their fulfilment are also good. Christianity is not nihilistic and it is not interested in annulling our desires.

But this also means that when evil comes then evil must be resisted and overcome – not wished away.

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