Friday, 8 September 2017

"You Considered Yourself Lucky"

Outwardly Wealthy, Desperately Impoverished

Here is a description of what it was like to live in a council house in Britain in the nineteen fifties. Remember that council houses were often found on special housing estates where houses sprung up like mushrooms after the war in an effort to house people--many of whom had lost their houses or accommodation through the Blitz.  In other words, they were relatively modern houses for their day.
The front door opened directly on to the pavement and you walked straight into the front room, which was only used on special occasions.  My mum said it was 'to be kept for best'.  You then passed into the living room, where there was a dining table and chairs and a couple of armchairs around a big black coal-fire stove.  A huge black kettle, full of hot water, would always be resting there.  The living room was also the setting for my Friday night scrub-down in an old tin bath . . . . A door opening on to the stairs took you up to two bedrooms.

There was no bathroom or indoor toilet.  If you were caught short during the night, you used a chamber pot under the bed . . . . . Downstairs, the room at the back of the house had a gas stove and a large sink where clothes were scrubbed clean by hand.  The back yard was shares with three other families and the only toilet was at the end of the yard, with a bolt on the inside of a rickety wooden door.  [Quoted in David Kynaston's Family Britain 1951-1957  (New York: Walker and Co, 2009), p. 165.]
To the superficial modern Western mindset, such living conditions today would be regarded not just as appalling,  but a breach of human rights.
 The account was provided by Neville Holder, the son of a self-employed window cleaner.  But the account continued:
Altogether, Holder concluded, "it really was and incredibly insular way of life"--but he also insisted, "everyone was happy with their lot", in that "as long as you had work, your sport and you could go for a drink, you considered yourself lucky."  
Human beings are remarkably adaptive.  They can put up with a lot when it comes to deprivation.  But there are some things which are essential: a family, a job, a community in which you have a place and are accepted, and friends.  But--and this is what we are facing up to now (in an allegedly a far more "wealthy" and "prosperous" society)--take away the basic nuclear family structure, the job, and the community then the sophistication of an indoor flushing toilet or two amounts to little more than a cruel joke.

We are outwardly rich when compared to Britain in the 1950's.  In reality, we are much, much poorer.  It's what is expected when a self-righteous, arrogant society turns away from the one, true Living God.

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