A poverty of society

Recently I had a patient who was discharged from hospital after a hip joint replacement. The trouble was that she had no home to live in and had to make do with a leaky bus. Living in a bus is not great for rehabilitation purposes!

Homelessness is not uncommon in my work. In fact it is all too common. Pretty much every week our team deals with someone who has no home, or is coping with overcrowding or is living in unsuitable housing. I regularly read of homelessness in other parts of the country – people dying on park benches, non-government organisations like the City Mission and Te Puea marae assisting to the best of their ability those who through misfortune or other circumstances find themselves in the invidious situation of having inadequate shelter. The reports and news articles are sadly repetitive and yet it is as if this clarion cry to action falls upon the deaf ears of our leaders.

I use the term leaders with some disquiet because how can people who are in positions of power be called leaders when they are leading society into a culture of hubris and narcisim? True leadership requires followership in which people have the courage to ‘uphold ethical standards1’. It seems to me that over the last nine years action only occurs when the rights of the most powerful are impinged and not the rights of the powerless and vulnerable. In this election year it becomes more incumbent on the citizenship that we develop true followership – to hold fast to our morals and ethical values and think compassionately about those who society does not favour.

Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty2

If we think that there are people in society who are not favoured then this tells us that we have a poverty of society. This is not the New Zealand that I want.

Written on July 15, 2017