Wednesday , April 24 2024
...caring for the well being of others has become a negative thing to do. What a pity.

Caring: A Thing Of The Past

Some days I wonder why I read the newspapers anymore. Just when you think you’re getting inured to almost any story of human depravity, along comes stories like those that were in today’s Globe and Mail that either make you want to puke or climb the nearest water tower with a high powered rifle and begin picking off humans, because as a species we really don’t deserve to live.

I admit that I’m less than thrilled with humans these days in general. I’d defy anyone to live in the type of neighbourhood I do and not feel that way. Not a day passes without an act of such selfishness that one wonders if people ever consider other people when they do something. When this is coupled with the noise of street fights between stoned losers, and the drunken parties going all night, my patience has been worn quite thin.

So I’m probably pretty close to “going postal” on a daily basis. Reading about the following two incidents really made me wonder how we’ve managed to evolve even this far. Is there such a thing as devolution? Or are these things just an example of what happens when the gene pool is reduced too far from cousins marrying each other?

The first story is about the murder trial of some grandparents accused of allowing their grandson to die from neglect. The description of the child by the time of his death sounds like what you’d expect a death camp survivor to look like:

… at the time of his death, poor Jeffrey was but a bag of bones and sinew and feces-encrusted and infected skin. He weighed all of 21 pounds — less than he had as a year-old toddler — and stood about 37 inches tall, the average height for a boy half his age. Experts have testified he was chronically starved, over a period of months and perhaps years, such that he was not only wasted but stunted. — Toronto Globe And Mail, October 7th, 2005

The grandparents of this child had been given custody of all their grandchildren three years ago when their mother had been declared unfit. Jeffrey and one of his sisters were kept locked in a bedroom at all times with no blankets, beds or toys. They weren’t allowed access to toilets and were barely fed. If these people were considered fit to be given custody of the children, I hate to think of what life was like with mother.

What kind of world do we live in when this can be allowed to happen? Where the hell were the people from Children’s Aid who are supposed to supervise custodial arrangements for all children taken from their parents? A six-year-old boy was slowly starved to death by his grandparents and nobody noticed anything was wrong with the kid?

If this wasn’t enough to make swallowing my morning coffee impossible and ruining my appetite for breakfast, this next lovely little piece finished the job. An eleven-year-old girl committed suicide because she could think of no reason to go on living.

Kathleen Beardy lived in Winnipeg’s tough, primarily poor native, north end. The week before she took her life, last Saturday, both of her parents were arrested, leaving her in the care of her seventeen-year-old sister. Not only did she have to witness both of her parents being dragged out of her house in handcuffs, it appears as if Winnipeg’s finest were overly enthusiastic in their treatment of Mr. Beardy during the arrest.

It also now appears that there was no justification for the actual arrests. Pictures of Mr. Beardy show all the skin has been removed from his kneecaps and abrasions on his upper body. He also complains of headaches, and pains in his knees and legs. If this wasn’t bad enough for a child to witness, there has also been the treatment she has been receiving form neighbourhood bullies.

She seems to have been a constant target of teasing and victimization, enduring taunts and hazing. But the worst occurred just before her death. She had bought herself a puppy for $2.00. Her happiness was changed to misery when the local bullies stole it from her and told her they were going to sell it. She hung herself with the dog’s leash by looping it over a tree branch and jumping off a junk pile.

What was going through this young person’s unhappy mind that could have driven her to such an act? A family picture reproduced in the article shows a young, bespectacled girl, with an ear-to-ear grin. She looks like any typical eleven-year-old girl. Not a care in the world. Said the girl’s grandmother:

We would never have thought it of Kathleen. She was always so good and so lively and she never seemed to have any problems. Maybe we just didn’t know what was going on inside. — Toronto Globe And Mail, October 7th, 2005

Everybody says the same things, don’t they, after a suicide? Hell, it even sounds just like what the neighbours say when they find out they were living next door to a serial killer. “He always seemed so nice.” “We didn’t know that he kept eleven year olds chained to his fridge.” “We thought the screaming was his television.” Nobody knows anything, do they?

Why is that? Why does nobody ever suspect a thing? Whether it’s a young girl who commits suicide or a young boy being starved to death, nobody knows anything about what’s going on until it’s after the fact. Or even if they do, as in the case of the six-year-old boy, they don’t think it’s their place to get involved.

What the fuck is wrong with people? They have no problem with whispering behind people’s backs about what they think they’re up to: “Did you hear that so and so beats his wife and kids?” But heaven forbid they do anything about it. “I don’t want to get involved” should be the mantra for this fucking age.

The it’s-not-my-business excuse is such bullshit. If you were being robbed and beaten wouldn’t you hope somebody who noticed might call the cops? Why not do the same? It’s not as if you even have to give your name anymore, most places have anonymous tip lines just for that reason.

Most people are so much happier being scandalized after the fact, and then they can sit around and gossip about it to their heart’s content. The people across the street from me would complain about the drug dealer living below them, how he stole from everyone, and kept them up all hours of the night. Not once did anybody complain to their landlord let along the cops, in fact they would happily buy stuff from him they knew to be stolen property.

The two news stories I’ve talked about are not only sad and disturbing because of what happened, but also for the implications they have about our society at large. We’re all so wrapped up in our own little worlds that we never even notice what’s going on right beside us. Even when we do very few of us are moved to do anything about it.

I’m beginning to be looked on as a troublemaker in my neighbourhood because I won’t sit idly by and let shit happen. Not that I’m worried about what they think of me, but I find it amazing that trying to make your neighbourhood a little more human and caring gets you labelled as a nuisance.

That’s such a sad indictment of our world; caring for the well being of others has become a negative thing to do. What a pity.


About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of three books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion" and "Introduction to Greek Mythology For Kids". Aside from Blogcritics he contributes to and his work has appeared in the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and has been translated into numerous languages in multiple publications.

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