By Pat Jones
_JHO detected the first whiff of a new snobbery in the air? Was it the observers of the beatniks, who saw in their sans car, sans TV, sans everything existence a protest against the materialism of their neighbours?
What a man has, and not
what he is, has always been the
world's criterion; we see it in the old novels where a man without umpteen thousand a year was hardly fit to step into the novelises scheme of things, though for a heroine it was different — she could always he married off to an heir.
The peculiar difference of our age is that comparative wealth has spread to the descendants of the peasantry of old. and many men (and still more often their wives) openly balance their own worth against the weight of steel, enamel and chrome in the car, TV. and fridge. They are not ashamed of it—yet.
SELF indulgence in the none.7 durable consumer goods is (or was) taken for granted in the postwar years. "You'll be a happier man smoking OUR coffin nails" is the burden of every advertiser's song. and, to the housewife, "Go on—ruin yourself—have a bar of sickly Nyum Nyum coconutcovered chocolate—you DESERVE it!" Do we detect a different note creeping into the conversation? Do the We can't afford it" brigade sound more smug than those who have managed to keep up with the loneses. Is the country's admiration turning to the star who doesn't drink/smoke/ drive fast cars or generally live what is euphemistically called the good life? It is a little early to tell with any certainty, but the pressure to do without may be increased as people become more conscious of the hungry in other lands, and, we hope, the elderly poor or just the ordinary poor in our country who suffer from malnutrition. I wonder how many of the people who protested angrily about the Milk Board's abortive effort to pour waste skim milk down derelict coal mines bothered to put any money aside to pay for the processing of this food? It is a little unfair to tell the other fellow he should do the giving, when in fact he must find large amounts of cash to make the giving possible.
Poverty ITTLE Catholics are fortunate.
In their schools they were, and still are. encouraged to give even their pennies to help equally small Catholics in other lands. With the increasing publicity given to Oxfam. War on Want, Save the Children Fund, etc., this spiritual benefit is now open to all children of any faith or none. OurLord's saying, "deny yourself, and follow me" (I leave out the heavy cross for the time being) is a useful guide. If people deny themselves. and stop there, the result is a vacuum. If they follow Our Lord, and use the money saved on excessive smoking, sweets and over-eating to follow His instruction and love their neighbour as themselves, a great good will be achieved. In the matter of family life, this may be one occasion when the left hand should know what the right is doing. If children see parents deny themselves small luxuries in order to help people who have not even the necessities, a new spirit of true poverty — in the religious sense—may be born.