Why I’ve Decided to Stop Slamming Shoppers Stockpiling Supermarket Sanitiser…

In these last few days, I’ve heard so many people ridicule the irresponsible, reckless and short-sighted behaviour of stockpiling. Indeed, I am guilty of making countless comments criticising the seemingly shocking ransacking of supermarket shelves. People are becoming pugnacious over pasta, hoarding personal rice reserves and stashing toilet tissue enough for Armageddon. And for this, I’ve mocked, I’ve muttered, and I’ve taken the mickey.

Because it is crazy. Isn’t it?

Or is it just that it seems crazy to me.

I mean, the reason I’m not guilty of acting so “irrationally” is because I’ve cruised into the epicentre of this crisis having maintained a middle-class margin in life. I’m cushioned (at least for a little while) from blows by the comfort of this middle-class margin, and I wonder if you are too?

Let me explain…

My wife, my two daughters and myself; we’re sat on some small savings, I’m paid a steady salary with a notice period that must be served, and I can afford to buy the Tilda branded rice that’s still on the shelves and can (just about) afford the insanely expensive quadruple cushioned toilet roll that’s the only stuff left. And my family is unlikely to run out of food for a while – we naturally have more stock in our kitchen at the end of the week than many other people have after a big weekly shop. Our family can muddle through. We could take a payment holiday on the mortgage if finances get any tighter. And we’ve got friends and family around us who may be able to help us look after our children if nurseries and schools shut. And we’re young, and in good health, and don’t have any underlying health concerns that we know of, so the risk is lower to us. And we’re educated, we understand the charts and infographics, the guidelines and the implications. We haven’t booked overseas holidays and we haven’t got elective hospital appointments. The point is – we’ve got some margin.

But…

But what if I was renting a property with no prospect of a payment holiday? What if my cupboards were bare before this crisis kicked off? What if I had no family living locally to help look after children? What if I wasn’t connected into a Church Community combatting concerns about isolation? What if I didn’t have a salary, or savings, and was a sessional worker or on a zero hours contract? What if the extra pound it costs to buy Tilda rice was a cost I couldn’t casually absorb? What if my news feed was fuelling my anxiety and I had no-one encouraging me to be calm?

I wonder if getting some stock might not seem so “irrational” then?

Of course, I’m not endorsing stockpiling. I’m not pro-panic. And I’m not apathetic about societal anxiety. But I am suggesting that there might be a different story here. I’m suggesting that what seems “irrational”, or foolish, or ridiculous from one standpoint, might seem like the only viable option available to someone else.

When everyone mocked the reckless actions of the woman in Simon’s house, Jesus loved her. When all the people started to mutter about sinful Zacchaeus, Jesus loved him. When all the people moaned about being hungry, Jesus loved them. Jesus had a huge heart for the last, the least, the lost and the lonely. I think that so far, I’ve lacked a bit of this heart.

And so, I’m going to set out this week to stop slamming, shaming or shouting about those for whom this situation is felt very differently. I’m hoping, and praying, that instead of mocking, muttering or moaning, I might love instead.