Digging our way out of recession

DIGGING is an activity of either hope or despair.

Often I have watched our dog dig in great anticipation for the bone or much loved toy he has buried, maybe only ten minutes before! And when he comes upon it there is great euphoria. He lifts it up, tosses it, catches it, bolts off on a victory-round of the garden, and generally behaves as if the whole discovery was a huge surprise to him. He doesn't bother too much about returning the soil or patting it down nice and even!

Digging means there will be an alteration – it breaks up and overturns. Whether the tool is a paw, a hand or something mechanical the purpose is the same - to reveal or uncover.

We have watched two digging operations these past weeks.

The big dig as far as the world was concerned, of course, was in Chile and what a wonderful, reaffrming event that dig turned out to be. How pleasing it was for the world to see families reunited and men re-surface in better health than could have been expected. And what a refreshing change to see the God of creation given thanks by the

individuals rescued and by those in government.

The other dig took place on this island, hardly noticed by the world at large – it was being undertaken for one of the "disappeared". The contrast could not have been greater.

There was no chance whatsoever of a happy ending. No promise

that there would even be a body. No "camp hope" for the family involved, just the steady removal and churning of earth and then,

at last, human remains.

Unlike Chile, here the process will require repeating.

This week we have begun another type of dig altogether – the dig out of recession!

Sometimes there is no alternative route other than to dig our way through. This one will be a long dig.

The cuts require each government department to dig deep into their resources, while at the same time they require us to do our personal digging.

The decision to not ring-fence health provision and frontline services has not been a convincing one. While those of average and below average

earnings will be required to take up the hardest spade work, it would seem to make sense that frontline services were protected more than ever. The slack that hangs around other departments while in days of plenty, may add a fourish to our lifestyle, in days of hardship it certainly may be left to one side. That is simply not an option regarding healthcare.

The lively debate concerning education which this week has exercised many is a debate that we cannot luxuriate in or afford commissions on, while there presently is not the funding for classroom assistants, for library books, for support teachers, nor indeed before the whole issue of the 11-plus is even sorted.

It would seem that at the start of this dig there needs to be a

few areas roped off and a decent site-map laid out before us, rather than everyone running about with their own shovel and creating a quagmire rather than a tunnel. Sometimes I just don't dig it!