Where’s the Compassion?

It’s not often I digress from book reviews on here but last night I experienced something quite unnerving and this morning I’m disgusted by people’s reactions to it. I live in a block of flats in a so called “trendy” area in Manchester. You need a card to scan into the gated car park and to get in the building, through the doors and to use the lifts. There’s also 24 hour concierge. There’s CCTV around, it’s pretty secure!

Last night there was a young guy in his mid-20s who found his way into the car park. He was screaming and sounded in a lot of anguish and mental pain. He was lying on the floor between the cars and crying and holding his head. He punched a couple of the cars and kicked them. He was having conversations with people who weren’t there. It was distressing to see and witness. I believe he was under the influence of drugs but more than that I think he was having a mental breakdown. Eventually the police arrived and calmed him down and took him away.

I don’t know who he was, or what’s come of him, though I hope he is receiving the care and help he needs. As someone who has anxiety and depression and has been suicidal in the past, my main concern was not for the cars in the car park, but the for guys safety. It was incredibly upsetting to see someone so detached and unaware of his surroundings. As it is with most things these days, the building I live in has a facebook group where people usually ask about parking spaces or advertise cleaning services etc. Someone posted in there asking if they knew who the guy was and generally people were concerned for him and showing compassion. But as with everything there are people who made sweeping comments and judgements and had little to no compassion.

As a side note, the building I live in is surrounded by other buildings that provide the standard “swanky” white box city living most places offer now, but just behind us is a council estate. The same place where some of the apartments surrounding mine now stand, once had houses both private and council owned. In short the area is a picture postcard of gentrification personified.

One guy in this group took umbrage to those of us who was worried about the young guy and said “yeah lets have sympathy for the guy who woke everyone up and smashed up cars in the car park” now I must say here at no point did the guy smash anything, yes he punched a couple of cars and kicked them but no damage (no denting or windows smashed) happened to any of the vehicles inside the car park. I responded saying that mentally the guy was in a vulnerable and volatile state and appearing to be under the influence of drugs was confused, scared and angry. This guy’s response was “Considering the people that live just behind us. I’d wager he’s a scumbag off his face on drugs.” And in that statement he summed up what is so very wrong in most of today’s society.

I don’t know anything about this guy, but his level of ignorance absolutely dumbfounded me. For starters he’s implying that the very people who have lived in the area BEFORE these apartments were built are nothing other than scum bags who use drugs and smash up other people’s property. Yet if you look around the estate a lot of these houses are kept wonderfully, most of them with nice front gardens and you’ll often see the neighbours chatting to one another. He countered my response with how many times the local bakery and bar has been broken into and muggings that have happened. Once again implying that it is likely the people who live “just behind us” who are responsible and it just made me see red. For starters, break-ins and muggings happen every day, it’s not exclusive to the area where we live. It also seems to escape his attention that the people doing these break-ins and muggings don’t necessarily live around the corner. I had my phone pick-pocketed last year and it ended up in Rochdale, which is a good 15 miles from where I live and where it happened.

Another thing that irked me is he’s making judgements about someone in such a vulnerable state mentally and showing no compassion. But it was the fact he made the sweeping assumption that this person must have been from the estate. I take umbrage with this for multiple reasons. For starters, I grew up in a council house on a council estate; all my life I’ve had people making comments at me because of where I’m from because they have an idea in their mind of what people who live on council estates are like. I also suffer from anxiety and depression and have been suicidal in the past and close to a mental breakdown. This guy has a sense of unprecedented self-importance because he somehow thinks that because he lives in this swanky apartment that those in the surrounding area are beneath him. Actually it is those very people who were kicked out of their homes to allow gentrification to happen, so that people like him could live in a “nice” apartment in an “up and coming area” and be a yuppie. The only reason I live in these apartments is because my mum died quite suddenly, and I had two weeks to find somewhere to live. I share a 2 bedroom apartment with 2 other people and only just about get by.  I don’t forget where I come from, nor am I ignorant enough to claim that there aren’t some bad eggs who go out and vandalise for fun, but it is the sweeping statement and the wording that really rubbed me up the wrong way.

It sickens me to think that he’s more concerned with the idea of a car being damaged than he is about the safety and mental state of a human being. Now I am in no way saying its right that the guy was punching and kicking and cars, but honestly if you could have heard the pain in his screams you would know that this guy wasn’t just some guy looking to intimidate and try and rob/wreck a car. He was under the influence of drugs and was also in an extremely vulnerable state of mind. He was screaming at people who weren’t there and crying and holding his head. It was heart breaking to see and hear but it really sickens me more that people are more concerned about things than people.

This is what’s wrong with society. We live in a world where more stock and importance is put into what you have as opposed to who you are on a day to day basis and how you are with other people. There is a very definite class divide in most areas now, especially where I am currently living. The people who rent these apartments look at the people from the estate with a mix of humour and disgust, as though they’re something to be tolerated and mocked. Something that should be pushed out because they don’t belong, completely ignorant to the fact that generations of the same family have lived in the same area for decades. They look down their nose at the addicts who go to the surgery nearby and I’ve even seen them walk past homeless people hurriedly in case they talk to them.

People like this guy, want to live in a world that is “instagrammable” and only wants to see the aesthetically pleasing sides of life. He wants to live in a fancy apartment, where he expects to be treated like a king (he was one of the people who once complained in the group about the concierge not phoning him and telling him his friends had arrived) where everyone should think it’s “funny” to show no compassion to someone who is mentally ill and in a vulnerable state. In short, he wants to go through life with a belief that a person’s worth is measured by their bank account and how many likes they have on their carefully censored Instagram profile. When I was arguing back and forth with him he said I had an agenda. But my only agenda is to try and make people a little more understanding and considerate.

I really dread to think what would happen if anyone he loved or cared about found themselves in that situation. I’d dread to think what would happen in the future if he fell on hard times and had to turn to theft to feed his family (something I have witnessed in Aldi a couple of times and it kills me to see) It seems he’s ignorant to what is happening in the world around him. Families with jobs are living in working poverty and having to go to food banks to feed their children, male suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 and there’s a spice epidemic happening in the city centre. Homeless people taking a drug that turns them into living zombies because it passes a day of no food or shelter and makes it seem like 10 seconds. It gets them through a day.

My “agenda” is nothing more than having concern about someone who seemed scared and in pain. Material objects can be replaced, a human being cannot. It’s not hard to grasp or fathom is it? People are more important than things.  People are sentient beings, things are not. Perhaps if people took a step back and thought for a second instead of being quick to judge or jump to conclusions, the way we live could change.  I know there’s bad in the world, and I know some people do harm on purpose, but not everyone.  I know it might seem easier sometimes to judge people, but for a second put yourself in their shoes. Everyone has a history, some people have darker and more trying ones than others, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be compassionate because you lack understanding. Because it is through listening and trying to understand that compassion can be born in people.

Some of the kindest and most giving people I know live in council houses on council estates. There wasn’t a year that went by when money wasn’t raised for a family who couldn’t afford anything for Christmas, or a food hamper was put together and given to a family who had less…Even when my mum died and my brother and I were struggling to raise money to pay for my mum’s funeral, the people on the estate rallied round and raised some cash to help us pay for it. Yet these very people are looked down upon because they live one street over. It disgusts me. I’d like to say this guy saw sense but he didn’t. He just laugh reacted to most of what I saying and has decided to be ignorant. They say ignorant is bliss so I hope he sleeps well at night with his lack of compassion and understanding. Me, I’d rather lose sleep worrying than be like him.

I’m going to enquire tonight to see if there’s any news on the young guy. I really hope he’s getting love and support and guidance, he seemed to be in so much anguish and suffering. We all come into the world the same way and go out the same way, you’re no better than anyone else because of your postcode. Likewise, you’re not untouchable to mental health because of where you live. It can effect anyone at any point in life. I hope the guy is ok…But above all I hope that there are more people out there who show compassion. Don’t be “that” guy, don’t be a dick!


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