Archive for May 26th, 2010
When we declared ourselves to be a civilised nation, honouring such ideals as Democracy, Society and Public Service, we should have put up large banners and posters reminding our so-called caring citizens that when they see something untoward, it is maybe almost their duty to inform someone in authority that something is troubling them.
It doesn’t have to be specific; if you feel there is a problem with a near neighbour, whether it be knowledge that they are ill, or perhaps disturbed, ask the police or, perish the thought, Social Services, and at least you have done your duty.
Let me give you two examples from my own life.
- I was chatting to a mate whom I met on a quiet street in the southern suburbs of Cape Town. As we talked, I caught a movement out of the side of my eye, glanced around, but saw nothing. I thought I saw movement again, and looked far closer; discovering that a car or truck had collided with a metal post which served as a combination street-light pole plus an overhead cable support, the pole had broken off about an inch from the ground, and it was actually been held upright by the tension of the power cables to which it was fastened. As my car was pointing into the suburb centre, I said I would report it. The policeman to who I reported the damage at first didn’t want to know, as it probably would have generated a great deal of paperwork, but I persisted, eventually speaking to a Sergeant who accepted that I had done my duty, and now he would carry on and alert the various officials who would arrange for repairs.
- A few years ago, I was inspecting work done by a contractor in a flat, and the resident mentioned almost in passing that the elderly lady upstairs had not had a hot water supply, either for washing or heating, for over two months. I checked, found that the landlord was indeed responsible for this gross dereliction of his duty of care towards the person who rented accommodation, and ensured that the skinflint Scrooge sorted things out, by a judicious letter to both the head of the Social Services, as well as the Police.
If you, like I, accept that under certain circumstances we are our brother’s keeper, do you agree that the neighbours of this unfortunate are indeed unworthy of the title?