It’s been three weeks since a raging fire tore through Grenfell Tower and destroyed the 120 flats inside. With the official death toll currently at 80, the tragic inferno has sparked widespread anger and a resounding call for justice. Though fingers are being pointed, the investigation continues as to why this fire was so fatal. Reports suggest that safety concerns were raised and multiple issues were flagged up, though they seemingly fell on deaf ears. It appears that somewhere along the line, neglect has some part to play in this tragedy. Sadiq Khan, London Mayor said: “Those who mock health and safety, regulations and red tape need to take a hard look at the consequences of cutting these and ask themselves whether Grenfell Tower is a price worth paying.”
The message runs through loud and clear – a casual approach will inevitably cause casualties. We’ve witnessed it in catastrophes of the past, we’re witnessing it now and if we look closely, we’ll witness this principle constantly playing out in our own life. While ‘casual’ can refer to being relaxed and accommodating, it does also relate to being careless and unconcerned. When being ‘casual’ means we lack serious intention and withhold quality attention, we can predict we’re in for trouble. Modern culture tends towards the casual, and as children of the age, it’s inevitable that we reflect that in our own approach to life.
Think about relationships. When we fail to devote quality time, energy and attention to the people around us, the natural consequence is that we disconnect and drift apart. Time, they say, can heal a broken heart, but also break a waiting heart. Often, we lack appreciation and value for what we have, being too pre-occupied with other activities and interests. Think about health. We sometimes treat our bodies as though we have a few more spare ones in the cupboard. Being casual in the upkeep of the physical frame will render you a casualty for sure. Lack of exercise, over exertion, irregulation, and reckless habits – it all comes back to haunt you.
And now think about spirituality. Most spiritual aspirants are not bad practitioners, but just casual ones. Luke-warm, lets say. Strict on a few things, and loose on a lot more. We take a bit of this, add a bit of that, ignore the rest, and blend it together with half-hearted attention, and pray it’s the recipe for enlightenment. I wouldn’t count on it. An attitude survey by the thinktank Theos, revealed that about 70% of the British population is neither strictly religious nor strictly non-religious, but rather moving in and out of the undesignated spaces in between. Casual spirituality, however, won’t generate profound existential awakening nor deep spiritual experience. What’s more, casual spirituality leaves room for materialistic desires and illusory ideas to creep in, take root, and eventually wreak havoc. The Grenfell blaze began from a single Hotpoint fridge-freezer. Within a matter of minutes, that single fire spread to set the whole building ablaze. It’s quite conceivable that our casual spirituality could suffer the same fate.