I read on stuff tonight about a young guy in Wellington who died (two years ago) from alcohol poisoning. He was at a movie, and when he was found he had an empty 1L bottle of whisky beside him. Police records showed he was transient, and that he had drinking issues. He was only twenty-three years old.
The coroner, Ian Smith, said the following: "It would appear that the deceased has, to some degree, fallen through the cracks and that he appears to only have received limited support, partly brought about by his itinerant nature of his life...".
My heart feels so sad. I'm reminded of Holden Caulfield's ambition to be the Catcher. It's funny, being one of my favourite books, I've churned over so many parts of it in my mind, but I don't think I ever really thought what it really means for him to want to be the one who stops the kids from falling off the edge. I think all the time about authenticity... and now I realise I missed something more important than that.
We all know that the cracks are getting bigger. When we last voted, most people decided they wanted things other than what might help stop up cracks that seem unavoidable in a world that isn't perfect. That means that the rest of us, who value people, have to step up. We have to be the Catchers.
We can Catch by doing little things. We might not have cash every time we pass someone on the street who is asking for it, but we can acknowledge them, and make them know we recognise their value. We can Catch by respecting the people who cross our paths throughout the day. These are small beginnings, but they can quickly spread to other bigger things. Habits become a way of living, which then informs our beliefs and our politics, which should then go on to shape our society.
One of the things that defines my politics is a belief that we are all responsible for and to each other. I feel that we failed this man. Please, let's pledge to each other that we will go all out to stop people from "falling through the cracks". Life isn't always the best - sometimes it's downright shit. But while we have it, we should feel valued, and able to live well.