Today, I witnessed a small but heart-breaking incident that made me rethink what it is to be a good person. Forget that,it wasn’t just heart-breaking,it was very upsetting. People say when you mind your business,you stay out of trouble. When is it ok not to mind your business though?
Earlier today on my way to work I passed by a disabled, homeless and mentally-challenged person. She was seated near the 37 bus station in Accra, Ghana, an area banned to hawking and street beggars. She was seated somewhere on a pavement eating food that was clearly given her by someone. Since the station is near a military base, it is common to find a few soldiers moving to and fro. They have been ordered to make sure there isn’t loitering of any kind. So I guess it makes sense that a certain soldier was trying to get this mentally challenged woman off the street. It seemed I had come to meet the aftermath of that attempt because the woman, who could hardly speak was frantically trying to explain to passers-by that she was being man-handled by the soldier.
Anyway,to prove she wasn’t a push over,( I can’t say for sure) she decided to stay put and rather peddle the soldier with insults. Long story short, it turned physical,when the soldier tried to push her off the pavement. That was NOT a good look. Suddenly she was falling into the street,with her loose pants exposing her private parts. and this soldier was standing over,yelling. She was wailing, cursing, trying to eat and pulling up her pants at the same time. It was quite sad.
While this was happening, of-course there many on-lookers. It was hard to tell whether they stared because they felt sorry for her or that she deserved to be treated that way. By this time,I was seated in a taxi that had to use the road across from where this was happening.No one bothered to intervene or stop the assault. And even though I was in a moving vehicle, I can’t say I would have the attempt to help if I was close-by. I really don’t know how I would have reacted.
This makes me very SAD. It brings many thoughts to mind. For one thing, human need for self-preservation and our lack of concern for others is over-whelming. It is natural as it is exasperating. We aren’t even ashamed to show that we simply are not concerned about others less privileged. This is the one time, “minding your business” simply did not make sense. The driver of the taxi I sat in commented in Twi, a local language, “these people keep coming back here when they know it is off-limits, what about the soldier whose job is at risk?”.
He had a point; the soldier was doing his job but that brings me to my next question,where are the homeless people supposed to go? In Ghana, and please correct me if i’m wrong, I do not know of many shelter that caters for homeless people, especially in the capital. I won’t even talk about the deplorable conditions of our so-called mental institutions;the neglect and abuse. Likewise, there really aren’t many equipped places to cater to physically challenged people.So you can only imagine what little hope a physically and mentally challenged homeless person has.
Get over yourself
We have got many developmental challenges to deal with. I will leave the Economic woes to someone else. I am still yet to figure out my part in all of these. But I am hopeful.
Today was a chance to be a good person and I think I blew it. I certainly hope to do better.