Our Heartless Social Default Setting


By Jason Michael

Homelessness is topical around Christmastime, and more so now because of the heart-breaking news of a young man who died sleeping rough next to the Dáil. Homelessness is part of a wider social crisis – endemic in the developed world – which really does upset me. The awful truth is that we, the global culture of self-centred consumerism, don’t care. We don’t give a crap. Other than the very few dedicated, but underfunded and largely ignored individuals and groups, we give but a quantum of thought to the suffering of people forced into homelessness but once a year; Christmas – that panacea for guilt.

As soon as the last-minute shopping frenzy of Christmas Eve dawns we slip back to the default of wilful ignorance. We excuse our consciences from the suffering and pain around us with trite little mantras like: It’s their own choice to spend their money on drink and drugs rather than a place to stay. Night shelters are dangerous places. We who recite these meaningless nuggets head straight for the pub or a bottle of vino after a stressful day at work. To tell you the truth I would murder a gallon of paint stripper after a night sleeping rough in this or any city. It doesn’t need to be like this.

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