I got home from work on Friday night to a look of dismay on my housemate’s face: we had run out of oil. Oops. We snuggled under our duvets as we clung to the last hints of heat in our living room that evening, lighting candles and fairy lights to waltz ourselves out of the blue and into an illusion of warmth, and found amusement in the fact that the first snow of the winter had decided to bestow upon our little land its woollike presence just at the time of our household disaster – in between hyperbolic shivers and refusals to extend our hands too far outside the reach of our feathered pacifiers. Dramatic? Yes. But yes, it was. We awoke to crisp pillow cases and icy kitchen tiles on Saturday and spent the rest of the weekend as far away from our ice box as we could, having been promised by our new favourite people in the world that our tank would be filled once more on Monday. Yeyyy and brrr.
Today I heard of a group of people who live just twenty minutes from our little haven of (now) warmth. They aren’t from here and are feeling the cold maybe even more than the rest of us – something that is difficult to imagine given the everyday-conversational pattern bookended by comments about not feeling our noses and toes. They are struggling financially, having walked through a difficult set of circumstances recently. They can’t afford oil. And so they’re freezing. Help was found and their tank will be filled up tomorrow. Tomorrow. What about tonight? How long have they gone without heating for? How must they have felt until they heard that they would have oil at some point this week? Are their noses cold? Do they have enough socks to wear two pairs in bed? Do they wish they had jobs to earn money through to pay for things like oil? Can they afford much food? What happens when this tank runs out?
I bet they don’t have fairy lights to make things look pretty or warm houses of loved ones to escape to when their house is cold. I bet they aren’t blogging about their experience of cold tonight. I bet they wish they had the right documents to warrant waking up at 6am for work tomorrow.
They needed £50 for oil. Tonight I was talking to a friend about spending that much on a ticket for a ball.
Reality hit me in the face quite hard today. We all had our suspicions that I was a spoiled brat. I think this has now been confirmed. I have an amazing life and am unbelievably lucky…blessed. I have freedom, choice, love, resource, comfort…so many things. And I take most of it for granted, most of the time.
It’s Martin Luther King, Jr Day in the US. So much of his content is quoted time and time again. I think this sentence is quite appropriate tonight – perhaps outside its original context.
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
They – I – we are perishing. Our humanity is wrapped up in each other’s. What would it look like for me to stop being a fool and treat my neighbours – literally- like my brothers?
Ps: if you would like to help these guys, or others, please get in touch. ‘Need’ is here and it is on our doorstep as well as far away.