We didn’t have a white Christmas, the weather has been mild and exceptionally wet. The winds have been high for weeks now and the rain has barely ceased. Many areas have suffered flooding. It hits the news for a few days then is forgotten as other events prove more newsworthy. For the families affected, however, the problems do not disappear so easily.
On Boxing Day, families were evacuated across the north of England as rivers overflowed after the constant heavy rain. Buildings have been damaged and destroyed, a large hole has appeared on the motorway, homes are under water running waist deep and many who remain in their homes have no power. Almost 400 flood warnings are in place in the regions as I write, 31 of them severe, which means that the flooding brings a risk to life. Indeed, there have already been deaths caused by the appalling weather conditions.
The fear, worry and loss that such flooding will cause, even in a so-called civilised country, cannot be underestimated. Not everyone can afford household insurance… the north of England has traditionally been on the poor side of the economic divide and while communities will undoubtedly pull together, for many, such an event will be simply devastating.
Christmas is never the season of global peace that we hope for and like to imagine. From the refugee fleeing terror, to the homeless youngster facing another cold night on the street, or the thousand and one local crises, wars and natural disasters, there is always something, somewhere. Even in the peace of affluent suburbia, in quiet homes on almost every street there is personal tragedy… the family who waits in fear for the violent drunk to reach tipping point, the empty place at the table, the heartache of grief and the shocking pain of sudden or impending loss.
It is not wrong to feel grateful that it is not us in that situation. There is as much a place for joy as for tragedy in the world and without it, there would be little reason for humanity to seek survival. Humanity as a species may have its problems, but human beings as individuals are not a bad lot. When we become aware of need, most will do what they can to help. We cannot always do so. Sometimes there really is nothing we can do… but we can always be aware.