Underground Medic

By Liz Bennett

28 August 2014


Normalcy bias means that over time we become used to new parameters, becoming less empathetic to those who are struggling the more we see their images on the TV screen or read about their plight would be just one example.

It’s not that we are bad people, not at all, but for the most part what would have shocked us once, some time ago, no longer does.

Governments introducing changes in incremental steps eases us in gradually to accept new laws, regulations and to the erosion of our civil liberties. Before you know it all the little changes that were acceptable have turned into massive changes that are not, normalcy bias has once again worked its magic, and by the time most people realise it’s too late to do anything, that’s another example.

Every day reports come out of conflict zones around the world about the plight of children. Children without medical care, children without adequate food, children being used as runners for both armies and rebels putting them right into harms way when the adults should be protecting them.

We hear of families using food banks, of children in the first world not having enough to eat on a daily basis, of children whose parents have lost their jobs and homes and the ability to provide for their children.

We feel for them, we cringe at the thought of ourselves getting to such a low place and then thank God that we haven’t and pray to that same God that we continue to be able to provide for our kids, but, and it’s a big but, if most of us are honest it has less effect on us than it did in the past. We are getting used to seeing and hearing about people in such dire straits.

I used to live in a part of a large city in the UK. My area was neither upmarket or downmarket it’s average. My daughter's then-school had a breakfast club every school day. It was always packed.  My girl thought this was a great thing when she first started the school, a chance to get in there and have a bit of a social chat with her friends over a slice of toast and a glass of juice.

The newness wore off pretty quickly I’m glad to say, I will love her whatever but having an eight year old the size of a sofa due to two breakfasts five days a week is something I would prefer to avoid, and she didn’t quite get the idea that using breafast club meant not having breakfast at home. As a child that’s eating her arms when she wakes in a morning waitiing for food until school time was out of the question.

The breakfast wasn’t free, but very cheap, just pennies.

I was stunned that so many kids don’t have breakfast before going to school. 40% of children at my daughters former school had had no food from the previous evening, and often the evening meal they did have was sub-standard which ever way you looked at it.

According to staff, as those children had a free school lunch at midday their parents consider that one decent meal a day is adequate so dinner is more often than not a sandwich and packet of crisps.

My heart bled for these kids. Then I looked at the parents. Most of them were better dressed than I was. They certainly had  better mobile phones than I did, and many have a better car than I did.  Most were on state benefits of some kind…which I have been in the past and very grateful I was for them at a time when my child and I hit the bottom with a very loud bang.

 Those benefits were for us a safety net. The net caught us when we fell, it helped us out and gave me time to dust myself off and get back on my feet. I am eternally grateful that I live in a country where such benefits are available to those that need them.

That’s the crux of the matter though…need.

I like my mobile phone but I can live without it. I like my car and although life would be more difficult I could live without it.

I NEED a roof over my child’s head and food in the cupboard. I need to pay my bills to keep the heating and water on, I need enough money to put the clothes on her back but beyond that I NEED nothing. I want stuff, but that’s very different.

 When did it become normal for parents to have gold chains around their necks when they are struggling to feed their children?

When did it become okay to be listening to the latest album on an iPhone 5 when your child has not eaten that morning?

When did it become acceptable to wear a designer jacket when your child has hands turning blue from lack of a pair of gloves?

When did these people decide that the state could give their child breakfast and lunch so the money the state gives them can be spent on luxuries

When will something be done for these children?

These kids are going to grow up thinking this is acceptable, that this is normal, that everyone behaves this way. Another lost generation will follow as the lifestyles of the parents are rehashed through their offspring. Normalcy bias dictates that this is how it will be.

Obviously this doesn’t apply to all families on benefit, to those that need it I say take it, that’s what its there for. It’s those that are capable, that could cut back on luxuries to give their kids a better start in life I object to. Those who have no bread in the house but a packet of cigarettes in their pocket.Those who have no eggs in the fridge but have a dozen bottles of beer.

This is not only bad for the kids, and their kids, but for the economy, the country as a whole, and not just our country. The generational entitlement that is occurring across the first world is stifling growth and will continue to do so until people get back to basics and realise the difference between need and want.

Somehow they have to be educated at least to the point where they realise the damage they are causing  to those they are supposed to protect and cherish. Their children.

Take Care