I am no social commentator, not do I have aspirations to be one. But as a “member” occasionally things just leap out and slap you when they point at our society and highlight our shortcomings. In the Sydney Morning Herald this weekend there was an interesting article about a small company which has built its business around the cleanup required after a death (accidental or otherwise) or where a site is so filthy no regular cleaner will go near it. Council contracts for abandoned apartments and that sort of thing. They do a good job I am sure. But their observation about cleaning up the apartment of a derelict struck home. One of the cleaners said “…no one should live like that(in a “pigsty”) It is great to be able to help make his life a little better. Rightly or wrongly the reporter went on to say “This sort of work used to be done by charities or nuns or concerned people in the community. It is now done by cleaning contractors such as Gabby Simpson.”
Well I am not sure about you but it strikes me as a pretty sad state of affairs that our social safety net, our network of care, is reduced to not only contractors but to cleaning contractors!! Come on! Good on Gabby and her cleaning contractors for having the attitude they do. But shame on the rest of us for letting things get to a point where a reporter observes that in our community one of the key groups we expect to be best tuned into the needs of the poor and needy – the church – is not so tuned in. OK, there is a reasonable argument that plenty of churches are pulling their weight (here is one I know). But church or no church, our community is confronted by the fact that too many in our community live and die alone and none of us are aware until their lonely deaths hit the press – usually salaciously since some have rotted in situ for months and in one case for more than a year. Too many of these in Sydney these last couple of years. I sincerely hope we can do better than leaving these people up to our forensic cleaning contractors. Who incidentally, are usually on site when it is far too late!