But they are wrong.
This is a part of the real world. The world in which rich and poor co-exist, as they did in the time of Jesus, and in every age.
Pakistan, Kings Cross and Brazil
I grew up in Pakistan and attended a fee-paying school along with Karachi’s elite. There I saw shanty houses of cardboard built up against the mansions of my school friends. They also were next door to my own, admittedly more modest, mansion.
Years later, I worked for five years as a youth worker for a church in Kings Cross in London. Most of my work focussed on one of London’s poorest estates – yet Tony Blair lived only a few streets away. Geographically it was so close, but it in terms of wealth and opportunity it seemed to be another planet.
Like the picture above of a Brazilian slum right next door to a luxury apartment block -this is the real world in which we live.
From poverty to wealth
Most of my life and ministry has been spent in the inner city, both in London and Bradford, surrounded by poverty. Here, in this school, I find myself surrounded by wealth. What does Christian ministry mean here?
Well, one thing it means to me, is to speak up for the poor and the marginalised. There are various ways I am able to do this. But my favourite opportunity comes each year at Christmas, when the final week of term is filled with chapel services and concerts. I have been able to arrange things so that at each event there is a collection for Tearfund, and I have the chance to say something about those who are affected by poverty.
Robin Hood ethics
The Chapel “services” are run by the chaplaincy (my department), but “concerts” are run by the school’s music department. Imagine my concerns a couple of years ago when it was agreed by the school’s management team that half the money given at these concerts would go to subsidise school pupils on a music tour to Italy, instead of going to Tearfund. These concerts typically raise about £800, so from my point of view, the poor would be losing £400.
I have the opportunity every year to be Robin Hood. You see, I count the collections after they are all taken in, and I take the money to the bank. To steal from the rich and give to poor would be easy for me. It would just mean transferring some of the money from the “Concert” collections to the “Service” collections…
What do you think?
Robin Hood was a hero for robbing the rich to feed the poor. But would I be a hero for this sort of redistribution of wealth? Or would I be grossly abusing my position of trust?
Please vote on what you think I should do in the poll below.
Its worth considering: If Robin was a hero, why is it so difficult to persuade society at large to follow this same line of thinking in a larger-scale and more effective way?
All comments welcome!