After the fact

There have been a number of terrible tragedies in the UK of late. Yesterday we awoke to news of a council tower burning. The conditions in the tower were deplorable and the tragedy could’ve been prevented. It wasn’t.

It’s great to see people coming out and offering support to the victims and those who have been displaced. It would’ve been much better to actually protect the people living in the tower and all those like it before the events happened. It’s great to donate clothes and offer shelter after a tragedy. It’s another to build a fair and equal society where those without lots of money are entitled to basic things like safety and shelter, and where we require housing to be fit for human habitation. We haven’t done that.

The response to this reminds me of the story of the homeless man who assisted victims of the Manchester bombing. He was awoken while sleeping rough and went over to help because it was the right thing to do. Sadly before his story went viral no one had bothered to help him. Crowdfunding campaigns were started and he will get a brief bit of help. Before that he was someone you probably wouldn’t have bothered to speak to or acknowledge as you walked past. You definitely wouldn’t pay slightly higher taxes to ensure that he and others like him have a roof over their head. Or pay slightly higher taxes to ensure that that roof wasn’t a fire hazard or filled with mold.

We’ll donate after the tragedy, after the story goes viral but not before that. Until then we want our right to buy, lack of regulation and a system that says if you don’t have money you don’t matter. You don’t get a home, safety, food, in Canada prescription medication, dental care and glasses. You are on your own and I will keep that little bit of sales tax thank you very much. Look at Grenfell and ask how you can wake up everyday and build a world where people matter and have access to a decent standard of living, not what clothes you can donate after a bunch of them are dead and injured because they just didn’t earn enough money to matter. If you can donate as you watch in horror and sadness, or applaud the homeless man who turned out to not be so bad then you can also build a more equal society, that starts with your vote and attitudes towards redistribution.

I am reminded of the 99PI episode about egress, the thing that people in Grenfell desperately needed and died because they didn’t have. Good egress involves taking care of people you will never meet in case something bad happens to them. It involves being a society where we work together and look after one another. Right now we’re a society where we keep our heads down and only look up for a few minutes after something horrible happens. I don’t feel protected or taken care of. The people in Grenfell certainly weren’t.

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