Daily reflections from the Bolton Circuit

Rev Hilary Howarth – 2nd October 2021

FOMO – fear of missing out

 At the weekend I saw a notice on Facebook that said of the Morrison’s petrol station in Harwood “Good news – there are no queues for fuel” and a second notice which said, “The bad news is there is no fuel!” At first it made me smile, but then I realised the impact this is having on some people.

We’ve all heard and seen on the news people queueing for petrol in lines way down the road, stopping other traffic; people getting fractious with others in the queue worried that the pumps will run dry before they get to the pump; people driving round until they find a petrol station with fuel left in the tanks or having to queue early in the morning to fill up.

Some of us are inconvenienced but for others this is a very worrying time. For the person who is on a limited income and can only afford to fill up little and often until pay day; for those whose jobs rely on them getting round – the care workers, delivery drivers and some small businesses for whom no fuel means no work, no mortgage or rent payment and potentially no food on the table – this is an anxious time.

On the same Facebook page that posted the “good and bad news” from Harwood’s Morrisons, was a plea from another driver this morning almost begging people to not be so selfish and saying there is not a shortage of fuel but a shortage of common sense, common decency and courtesy. Is this driver right? Sadly, I think there is more than a grain of truth in what he is saying.

We live in an age where FOMO (fear of missing out) is a reality and we have seen it this week in the way people have filled up their cars whether they needed to or not. Perhaps it highlights a couple of things. That we get worried and anxious about many things, some of which we don’t need to. For me, would it have been the end of the world if I’d had to move a few meetings back on zoom rather than meeting in person? Would a phone call have made a difference rather than a physical visit to someone?

Has it highlighted what a selfish society we can sometimes show ourselves to be? When the chips are down, do we look after ourselves and forget the needs of others? What about those people on low incomes who really do need their cars to get to work and who fill up little and often, who will this week have found the cost of fuel to have gone up. In some parts of the country to £1.60 per litre?

Where does faith speak to the current situation? Jesus told us not to be worried or anxious about things, but we find that we are. Jesus told us to look after the needs of our neighbours before our own, but we have found we have put ourselves and our own needs first and he told us to fight for injustice in society – fuel poverty is surely as bad as food or period poverty wouldn’t you say?

Prayer: Lord, some people are very anxious at the moment, so we pray for an end to this fuel crisis. We have seen over the last 18 months the best of humanity, but this has shown us how selfish we can really be. Help us to be more aware of the needs of others and to put them first. We pray for a just and fair society, and ask you to help us to make this a reality for everyone. Amen.