If there is one thing you cannot overlook in the States at the moment, it is the number of Feel Good videos surfacing where a father, brother, mother or sister serving in the forces appears unexpectedly at some public event to surprise their families. Servicemen and women jumping out of boxes, throwing the ball in a baseball park, turning up in the classroom, when everyone thought they were still overseas, in Afghanistan or elsewhere. The films serve their purpose: they highlight the importance of family and the closeness of people to those who are serving their country. They bring a tear to many an eye.
Photo Credit: Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson – Creative Commons
What we don’t get to see are videos of servicemen and women who have been discharged, who are still suffering from their experiences, who have been pushed to the edges of our society and left to their own devices. Despite what many may believe, and despite the veteran services available, there are more of these people in the States than anyone would wish to admit, more than should be acceptable.
What we do get to hear, tucked away, are the responses from some people over those who have come back, those who have been injured, who have lost an arm of a leg, who are disabled in one way or another. We get to hear of restaurants and coffee shops which refuse them service, turn them away at the door and, sadly, we also get to hear of officials – from the police service for example – who treat them as less than a member of our society.
Photo Credit: DVIDSHUB – Creative Commons
But this is normal. This is the way that our society is today. We want to hear and see the good stories, no matter how we, as individuals, react. We want to know that there are good things amid the stress and rush of the day, as long as it is only the good things. We want to hear about a woman who gives up her jacket to warm a newborn baby because it embodies all we imagine our society should be about. What we don’t want to know is the rest of the story: that a crowd of sightseers stood around taking photographs of the birth on an open street, but not a single one had the presence of mind, the social presence of mind, to call an ambulance.
It’s not so much a societal problem, more an individual one. We need to work on our acceptance of those around us, be prepared to help before anything else. That is what a society should be about, and not just the individual and their needs. Not just onlookers taking photographs or drinking our coffee.
- Viktoria Michaelis.