“Hamilton police sickened by shocking conditions…” said the headline in the Toronto Star.* The story covered an inquest into the death of a developmentally delayed man. That police officers would be shocked made me feel exasperated, thus my sarcasm. But sarcasm or anger change nothing. They use up valuable creative energy. They distract us from focusing on solutions. So I generally try not to let my mind go there, but the headline caught me off guard.
I can partly thank my former real estate career for memories of people living in terrible conditions – upper rooms open to the elements, with racoons and other adorable creatures depositing their bodily waste wherever they pleased. Poverty-stricken immigrants – some elderly – living in crowded basement rooms with water dripping everywhere, parts of the ceiling falling here and there.
I would usually have been seeing this at an open house for agents when the property was on the market. I always found myself wondering where these people would be going after the house was sold. I certainly wouldn’t have reported them, because who knows what would happen to them as a result?
Mentally ‘incompetent’ people living in group homes, elderly people with dementia, many immigrants and refugees, have one important thing in common: they are powerless – dependent on the good will of others. All too often, that good will is absent. So they live whatever way is possible…
When you ‘don’t get out much’ – have no experience mixing with very poor people — you might not realize for example, that many people have no knowledge about things like stoves, toilets or refrigeration. And when such things malfunction, as they will, some people have no idea what to do.
Many of our citizens might not have even learned to read or write adequately – or their childhood was so traumatic they can barely function. You have heard of ‘special needs’ have you not? People with such needs are totally dependent on a caring society. Do we want a caring society?
Online, next to the article about the developmentally delayed man, was a link to “The best boozy slushies in Toronto”.** Too many are quite content to sit around sucking on the latest slushy, while those who couldn’t imagine a slushy are suffering. This is an example of how easily we can be distracted from more important things in life – like protecting this boy — essentially —
Yes, they definitely ought to get out more.