Christmas chaos: it’s our own fault

TV news filled with pictures of long queues for the Eurostar, terminal overcrowding at Heathrow, slippery parking on motorways and snowbound railways. Clearly the weather has caused difficulties but many of these are a consequence of the way we seem to want to live the rest of the year.

1. The drive for low prices and efficiency means that significant parts of our transport infrastructure run at or close to capacity. The business models which aim to keep costs low do so by seeking to run services in bulk. Apparently Heathrow normally operates at close to 98% capacity which means that any reduction short term capacity of any kind causes massive delays. Likewise the airlines rely on keeping their planes fairly full to keep costs down. If we really want an infrastructure which has spare capacity we need to accept it will cost more and choose to buy products and services from those companies who follow this route rather than those who aim to keep costs to a minimum by stripping away these service elements.

2. The belief it must be someone else’s fault. Watching representatives of travel companies or politicians being interviewed seems to be an exercise in apportioning blame. The premise seems to be that people must have failed if we have got into a mess with little credit given to people who have tried their best to put solutions in place.  

These feelings are particularly appropriate as we approach Christmas. The nativity play notion of people struggling to travel around the Middle East, unable to find accommodation, at mercy of forces beyond their control and resenting the Roman Government could easily be reset at an airport near you. Yet the gospel picture of both Mary and of Joseph is of people who responded to God’s promptings with devotion and trust and who sought to live out their faith in the circumstances they found themselves in. As far as I can tell there is no hint that either blamed God for the baby but perhaps the Telegraph journalists never secretly taped them!

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