The Other Side Of Ugly

I want to write something positive but it’s difficult to scrape up a few inspiring words after hearing about a despicable attack on an elderly member in our community. Words have a way of drying up when we try to speak of the unspeakable so I am going to try and focus on the other side of ugly, something that the people in our community are very good at in times of trouble—simple human kindness and generosity that often lights up the darkness in times of trouble.
There is evidence all around, in the aftermath of this attack that our community is full of many caring, helpful people—people who like to help others—who get pleasure and satisfaction from helping people in need—people who are outraged and sickened to the pits of their stomach yet find a way to rally round, in this case, a defenceless 96 year old lady. Their actions exemplify a moral beauty at a time when our government seems fit to pull security measures and cut back on vital support services leaving all members in our community vulnerable and unsupported.
We all know that immediately after the attack, Mrs Margaret Lilly was able to call on good neighbours by way of a panic button—something that the government decided thousands of elderly folk can do without until they has to row back on their decision. When did we decide that the safety and needs of the elderly in our community no longer matter? Furthermore, other home help support services are being pulled and community garda stations are being closed down. Has it come to the point that we can no longer rely on government authorities to support and protect us at a time when desperate criminals are being given a lot of freedom to roam?
When desperation spreads throughout a society, you literally do not know who you can trust. When people become truly desperate, they also tend to become highly unpredictable. Desperate people do desperate things. As the economy continues to crumble more folk are losing their houses, their jobs and their sanity. What or where or who do desperate people turn to if they do not seek help, if they are not offered help, if they are beyond help? Is it possible they turn to frail elderly ladies who have saved up, ironically, to keep their home safe and warm? Is it possible that if you have oil in your tank or copper pipes in your attic or a few sentimental valuables you could be viewed as wealthy; no matter how jobless you are, no matter how broke you feel, by someone with nothing left to lose?
Is it also possible that our government is robbing Peter to pay Paul? The very fabric of the friendly Irish society is falling apart and government cutbacks are not helping the situation. What will happen if vulnerable people in our communities are left without panic buttons and safety nets? Without safety measures our elderly with be enviably forced into care homes that will cost more than panic buttons. With less security measures, crime, fear and desperation will rise. Without protection and effective support services in place the unspeakable will happen.
It is comforting to know that there are always people in our community who appear like a light in the darkness but moral beauty alone will not collectively prevent the unspeakable. We need security and protection. We do not need security cuts. We need an effective government with effective measures in place so we all can stay safe and well on the other side of ugly.

©Aileen McGee

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