A few days ago, our country’s leader addressed the media about the homeless/housing crisis. For many of us, his words cut to the quick. Soundbites delivered with spin designed to create doubt among the public (ie: the voters).
This morning, I read the latest column by my favourite journalist, Gene Kerrigan. His latest piece, Pity the hapless, misunderstood Taoiseach, literally brought me to tears because he captured so much of what I feel. Read it, please. Toward the end of the article, Gene imagines our Taoiseach on Calvary with Christ and how – even about Christ – our Taoiseach would undoubtedly spin out those same soundbites, designed to create doubt amongst the people, about the rest of Christ’s story. You know, the parts that would make him “undeserving” of public support, sympathy, let alone worthy of receiving any help in his hour of need.
To Gene I say:
Nail on the head! Thank you for once again being a voice for those who cannot raise their’s loud enough to be heard.
To our Taoiseach I would like to say this:
About an hour ago I found myself in tears yet again. I was changing my 12 year old severely disabled and medically fragile son’s adult sized nappy. Runny stool was everywhere. As I attempted to clean him up, the runny stool got all over my dressing gown. In an attempt to finish the job at hand as quickly as possible so my son didn’t begin to have reflux and aspirate (as he does that if laying flat for even a few minutes), I leaned over his body at the wrong angle and my back went into spasm (I have degenerative disc disease now, on top of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis). Finally, he was cleaned up, despite the pain in my back, and I had to drop the soiled nappy onto the floor. It splattered everywhere because I hadn’t been able to seal it up while holding him in the position he needed to be in. That is the moment I began to cry.
I’m not crying solely over runny stool. I’m crying because I don’t think you, as the leader of our country, care about people like me. I’m crying because Gene’s article brought home to me just how divisive your soundbites are when it comes to people on social welfare or in need of social housing – like me.
With all respect due, let me tell you a few things. As I have been on this earth longer than you, and as I tend to give motherly advice to those so much younger than I, please indulge me here.
- You can’t assume you know anyone’s full story. In all likelihood, no one will ever truly know anyone’s full story because no one can enter into another person’s soul to see what it is that drives them on, what it is that brings them to their knees, or what it is that fills their heart with love.
- You can’t suggest that everyone on social welfare or in need of social housing is “less than” you, because again, you don’t know their full story. Take me for instance: I worked full time while I put myself through undergraduate studies. Then I did it again, working full time while putting myself through graduate school to earn a Master’s degree. I used to have a profession, a business card, got up every morning (nice and early) and put on lovely clothes to head to my professional work. I was that kind of person you seem only to respect. But then my eldest son was born. You know, the one I mention above. His name is Brendan Bjorn, and for him, I had to leave behind all of those qualities of life and characteristics you praise. But if you saw me now – about to be homeless with 2 young boys, one of whom is severely disabled, me in a dressing gown still smelling of crap, well dare I say you wouldn’t think much of me.
- Life. It’s not about getting ahead financially. In fact, money should only enter consideration when it comes to addressing our basic needs and a bit extra to make us comfortable. Once greed comes into play, the meaning of life gets lost. Trust me on this one.
- Death. It is never a good idea to use insulting, divisive soundbites in regard to anyone’s death. Ever. Death is called a loss for a reason. I’ve seen my share. Both of my parents are long dead. I’ve lost 5 pregnancies to miscarriage – one was a little girl with Down Syndrome. Her heart stopped in utero. And my beautiful son Brendan Bjorn…barring an early, unforeseen death on my part, I will one day experience his death as well. So please, don’t create more harm and hurt among the people with such insulting soundbites.
- Lastly, life can’t be wrapped up in a soundbite. Life is a complex and intricate experience that at the same time should be simple and whole. Life is not meant to be about who is better than, who is lesser than, who is deserving, who works hardest and gets up early or who is deemed unworthy. It simply is not about those things. Again, trust me on this one. I’ve lived a lot of life in my almost 52 years.