Monday, 19 February 2018

What's Wealth Worth?



Years ago, when I lived and worked in London, I often visited the most opulent parts of that city and saw riches and wealth you could not imagine. I often looked at shop windows and marvelled at what was available on offer and the prices asked for. I saw ladies handbags worth many thousands of pounds (£); necklaces, bracelets, rings, watches, tie pins, cuff links and many items of jewellery worth a fortune. I remember once looking at a window and having to check closer the price of a particular gold watch. "Is that the real price?" I thought, "or have they put the decimal point in the wrong place?"

I was astounded at the prices they were asking for a variety of goods and gifts I never believed existed, never mind wanted or needed. I certainly would feel uncomfortable wearing a watch worth so much on my wrist.

I also walked by well-to-do luxury hotels and restaurants. Establishments with a "maitre- d'hotel" type person with an imposing uniform standing at the door and welcoming you in. I witnessed many chauffeur-driven posh cars and limousines stop by, and bejewelled ladies and rich men walk out and enter these buildings.

I recall once a business acquaintance of mine invited me at his "gentlemen's club". It was such a luxurious building with the man outside opening the door for you and welcoming you in. He looked at me suspiciously and would have probably thrown me in front of a London bus or taxi, if I were not with my friend.

Inside, the carpets were so thick and luxurious you sank in almost to your knees, (a bit of an exaggeration), and everywhere real oil paintings of portrays of various people who in the past were members of this place. Chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and statues everywhere, it was wall-to-wall ceiling-to-floor luxury all round.

We were led to a table and the sommelier asked us what we wanted to drink. My friend suggested the Châteaux Expensive, or perhaps the Châteaux Exorbitant; or if I wished, they had a selection of fine brandies favoured by emperors and kings from years gone by.

Also, in London I witnessed poverty in the extreme. I saw at corners and in side streets men in dirty tattered clothes huddling together, sitting on the ground, near air vents at the back of buildings and hotels trying to keep warm by absorbing whatever heat came out from the dirty black grille low on the wall.

I saw the homeless and the down-and-outs gathering in the parks late at night searching for a park bench on which to sleep. By their state of unconsciousness it was obvious they had been drinking cheap hard cider mixed with methylated spirit; a favourite brew leading to quick oblivion and a temporary respite from their world of want.

I saw the same scenes of poverty side-by-side with riches in Edinburgh where I visited and stayed many a time.

Even today, in the small town where I live, there are many homeless people spending the night outdoors in these terrible freezing winter weathers with rain, snow and winds as their only friends.

I just cannot understand how, in one of the world's richest countries, we have such poverty in Britain.

Little seems to have changed from the days when Christ taught about the rich man and poor Lazarus at his gate.

I leave you with a song sung by a friend of mine, Father Francis Maple. He writes a daily sermon HERE.






Have you seen the old man
In the closed-down market
Kicking up the papers,
with his worn out shoes?
In his eyes you see no pride
And held loosely by his side
Yesterday's paper telling yesterday's news

So how can you tell me you're lonely,
And say for you that the sun don't shine?
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London
I'll show you something to make you change your mind

Have you seen the old girl
Who walks the streets of London
Dirt in her hair and her clothes in rags?
She's no time for talking,
She just keeps right on walking
Carrying her world in two carrier bags.

Chorus

In the all night cafe
At a quarter past eleven,
Same old man is sitting there all alone
Looking at the world
Over the rim of his tea-cup,
Each tea lasts an hour
And he wanders home alone

Chorus

And have you seen the old man
Outside the seaman's mission
Memory fading with
The medal ribbons that he wears.
In our winter city,
The rain cries a little pity
For one more forgotten hero
In a world that doesn't care

Chorus

22 comments:

  1. "...watch. "Is that the real price?" I thought, "or have they put the decimal point in the wrong place?"

    I saw a news story recently about a politican who wore a 600,000 dollar watch. I did a double-take. How could a watch be worth that much? He was being questioned about it and said his wife (a wealthy woman) had bought it. Six hundred thousand dollars.

    It is amazing, isn't it, how far apart two worlds can be in the same world.

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    1. Hi Sandi,

      Thank you for visiting me here.

      I agree. I was astounded at the price of the things on offer in the shop window. There even was a pure gold corkscrew to open bottles of wine. I just can't see why people would want to buy such a thing.

      God bless you.

      Delete
  2. It's sad to think that there are people in the world spending so much on such extravagant things when they could be helping others instead.

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    Replies
    1. Yes it is sad, Lois. In London and Edinburgh I saw wealth and poverty living side by side.

      God bless.

      Delete
  3. I wonder why myself why there should be so much poverty. I ask, "What did the rich do to deserve their riches and what did the poor do to be so poor. I give what I can and sometimes I think that is not enough. As I've walked the streets here in Jerusalem the last two days it is clear to me that poverty takes many shapes. There is also the poverty of spirit, with a real need for world PEACE! Thank you for this post!

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    1. Hi Cathy,

      I have nothing against someone being rich if they have worked hard for it. What hurts me is their complete blindness to those in need around them.

      God bless you, Cathy.

      Delete
  4. I wonder the same things here in the USA. If everyone would just feel in their hearts that faith and family/humankind are so much more important than money and status. Our aspirations are too often misdirected because of outside influences.

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    1. Yes Terri; outside influences. All we need do is watch the TV adverts and the way they make one feel wanting or inadequate unless they buy their products. There's too much pressure for people to be materialistic.

      God bless.

      Delete
  5. I recall that song from way back in the day - still relevant today, Victor. It's so sad, but I do believe Jesus told us there will be poor always with us. Yet we should always strive to help the down and out.
    Blessings!

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    Replies
    1. It is a wonderful song Martha by Ralph McTell. My friend Father Francis sings it well.

      Jesus said the poor will always be with us; perhaps He was encouraging us to help them.

      God bless.

      Delete
  6. Such extremes all over the world.

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  7. People today are very materialistic and that's a shame. What's wrong with helping those who need a helping hand. They sure would appreciate and who knows, you could even change a life and in doing so your life would change too. Money, the way its being spent today, will be the ruin of us all.

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    Replies
    1. You are so right, Bill. It is sad and a shame that the world seems so attracted to wealth rather than love and compassion for humanity.

      God bless you always.

      Delete
  8. Aah... I haven't heard that song in years! It's written by Ralph McTell. Sadly, such scenes as he describes are commonly seen in most cities, large and small. And many just walk on by rather than stop to help in any way, because the fear of being attacked (or verbally abused at least) can prevent people from getting involved. Life is so extreme. Some are forever chasing materialistic things while others have no food to eat or place to sleep. It can seem like an insurmountable and insolvable problem. Maybe we cannot do much but, as Mother Teresa said, we can all do small things with great love.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes Joy, this song was originally sung by Ralph McTell. And it does depict poverty very well in many towns and cities. Sadly, there is very little love for one another these days; for a variety of reasons.

      Thank you for visiting me, Joy. Please return soon.

      God bless.

      Delete
  9. Hi Victor! Tank you for visiting my blog.
    Even last week, a homeless portuguese man, died in one of Londons underground stations, because of the cold.
    It's sad and when you see people that have so much and take advantage of the poor...
    May God bless them and save them from the streets.
    Have a great week!

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    1. Thank you so much for visiting me Paula. Please return soon.

      Yes, it is indeed sad that many don't seem to care about poverty around them.

      God bless you and yours.

      Delete
  10. Jesus said, "The poor will always be among you." A consequence of the fall. It is sad, but also an opportunity to do what we can as His hands and feet. Thankful for this reminder of the least of these!
    Blessings!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Lulu,

      It's so great to see you visiting again. I hope you are keeping well.

      I agree that poverty is an opportunity for all of us to step up and help; not many do though. I know you volunteer a lot in helping others. Thank you for that.

      God bless you. You make God smile.

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  11. Victor this was a very moving post. Unfortunately true here in the USA as well. (Of course, everything is relative, as there are some people that would consider our poor very wealthy ... which adds a whole other layer onto it)

    I've been thinking about why this is. Maybe a future blog post.

    God bless you!

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    1. You are right, Michael. There is always someone poorer than ourselves; no matter our relative poverty.

      God bless.

      Delete

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