Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Things that bug me

Why don't supermarkets put ice cream cones next to the ice cream tubs?   I remember to buy the ice cream, but forget the cones because each supermarket stores in them in a different place, like amongst the cereals, for instance (at Countdown) or in some quite obscure place which I can never remember (New World) .

Something that bugs me more, however, is why people in obituaries or reports about someone who died doing something that involved extreme sport - or even mountain climbing - insist on writing: He (it's nearly always a He) died doing what he loved.   Is that the best way to die?  I think dying in your bed overnight of really old age would be a much better way to go.

Do I really want to die typing a blog, or in the middle of composing a song, or playing the piano, or watching a great movie?   Nope.  Give me the quiet death in a bed in the middle of the night when I'm in my old age any time, when I've seen my grandchildren, when I've learned to live with someone for forty or fifty or sixty years.

The papers recently reported the death from cardiac arrest of a 30-year-old Southland woman (Natasha Harris) who'd been drinking at least eight litres of Coca Cola a day for several years without any other kind of liquid to counterbalance it - and often without any proper food.  The family, reportedly, said Coca Cola should be blamed.  (We like to have someone else to blame, these days.)  

Did she die doing what she loved?  Seemingly...

And following from that, here's another thing that bugs me: Peter Dunne, the MP, was quoted today as saying“Preventing suicide is everyone’s responsibility."  But is it?  People in high places always seem to be saying: stopping this or preventing that is the responsibility of everyone.   It's a concise way of saying two things: people in the community don't care (in fact they do), and it's not really our responsibility as leaders to do everything (no, it's not, but have you realised that you're part of the community, and therefore preventing or stopping these things is part of your responsibility, if you're going to mean what you say).   

I sometimes feel that when someone in authority adds this phrase to a report of someone's death or in relation to a serious accident, or whatever, that they really mean that you and I could have prevented this.  Well, you and I might have been able to, but equally we might not.  

The Southland woman was the mother of eight children - and she was only thirty.  Blaming the community in her case is ridiculous - the children had a father, the woman had a mother.  They knew how much she reacted to the Coca Cola - she was vomiting every day.  But no one close to her seems to have taken responsibility.  Surely preventing something begins at home, rather than in the wider community.  

You could say that perhaps these people were too close to her and that she wouldn't listen.  Well, there are plenty of health officials out there capable to dealing with something like this, and if she wouldn't listen to her family, surely they could have called in some professional help.  Or am I being naive and judgemental?  

I struggle with the limits of what I can be responsible for at the best of times, and always feel I don't live up to (my) expectations as to what I could do.  But blanket statements about everyone being responsible are nothing more than blanket: they mostly seem to be ways of avoiding the actual issue of who is responsible, and whether they're doing anything about it. 

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