The Bigger Picture

April 25, 2012 3:58 pm

Today has been an odd day. My Mother fell ill this morning so we had to make the mad rush to our local A&E department to get her treated. Of course, being the NHS, on a Sunday, the waiting times were astronomical and as a result we had plenty of time to kill before her name was called.

Sitting in A&E is one of those opportunities that allows you to be in a room with a wide spectrum of people for a long amount of time. The young, the old; the rich and the poor; the patients with a plethora of friends and family, and the ones with no-one at all. Simply put, the accident and emergency waiting room is the ultimate sample of society. Looking around, I begin to think. Who are these people, how did they end up here and where did they come from? There were the obvious signs; the Telegraph-reading Tory supporters and the Nike-wearing teens. But I endeavoured to look a bit deeper; the relationships that they had with those whom they were accompanying, the faces they pulled at names of patients from other cultures as they were called, and the sly remarks they made about others in the socially acceptable quiet voice that they think no-one else can hear.
Now, 95% of the people in the waiting room would be people I wouldn’t choose to spend my time with, and I doubt the Nike-wearing youth or the Tory supporting Telegraph readers would choose to spend their time with me. However, this process of waiting in the A&E patient room required us to do so; to spend time with each other. You see, each and everyday, a collection of families, couples and people on their own are pulled together to this particular A&E waiting room, and waiting rooms all across the UK by a force that can only be described as fate. They are united in their hatred of waiting times, annoying receptionists and crying children waiting to be seen. Delving even deeper, I wanted to identify why it felt so strange to be stuck in a room full of people that are different to you. Surely, it’s no different to hopping on a train, or waiting in a queue at the Post Office? Then it struck me. The reason why the A&E waiting room is different to all the other examples is that there is no hierarchy of power within this group of patients waiting to be seen. We are all in an equal position; a monotonous first come, first served seemingly never-ending quest for treatment.
It’s an unwritten fact that society is plagued by inequality and difference. The rich ruling class have the immediate advantage from birth over the poorer classes and the poorer classes suffer as a result. Half of the social issues we are facing today are based on inequality; unemployment in the working classes, low education achievement in the lower classes; even poorer health prospects in the working classes. Therefore, would it not be better for our Western-style society, getting what we want at whatever cost, to take a leaf out of the book of the A&E waiting room’s way of doing things? The great social commentators of the right wing have informed us that we can get whatever we want if we set our minds to it; if we TRY hard enough. But what about those who do not have the money or circumstance to try? We can’t expect society ever to be fair if we start the race of life at different starting points. This all got me pondering; should we model our lives on the ideas of fair equality, or fair competition? Is being born into privilege, affluence and opportunity fair? Or should we model the way in which our society functions on the humble accident and emergency ward waiting room?

  • Astron

    You are not the first, and certainly won’t be the last to express these kind of sentiments. Essentially what you are describing is a desire for successful communism. Unfortunately, there is no such thing. In an ideal world, if there was mass redistribution and everyone was given the same chances in life, and it worked – then that would be incredible. But that will never, ever happen. The results of communism gave way to the biggest mass murderer the world has ever known.

    I’d also like to point something else out. You clearly have a disdain for the “rich” or “tory” types who read the telegraph etc. etc. and see it as unfair that they are rich. But then you are automatically suggesting that they were all born like that. Actually, most of those “born” with what you are talking about, i.e. aristocracy etc. from the past have hardly any money, they can’t afford their big houses anymore or what their parents and grandparents used to keep. The VAST majority (something like 98%) of rich people today are people who have made themselves rich. Your argument against the idea that those who are poor can make something of themselves if they really try is just not true. These rich people made themselves rich, they worked hard, very very hard, to get where they are and that is why they are rich. Everyone is poor before they become rich, and then once they become rich people assume that it is a status thing which they don’t deserve. Not the case, if you work for it, then you are much more likely to get it. Labour handed out jobs, public jobs, by the thousands, and look where that has got us?

    People expect to rely on society to provide for them, they should be providing for society. The governments shouldn’t be here to supply us with what we want if we aren’t even prepared to work for it. Work hard and prosper as the saying goes.

    As George Orwell rightly showed, true equality will never come about. There will always be poor people, and apart from the seriously unfortunate/unlucky, most of them will be poor because they don’t try and make something better of themselves. There is always a path if you try to look for it hard enough.

    Don’t blame the rich for being rich – they worked for that. Instead, encourage the poor to help themselves and to determine themselves a better fate.

  • James

    That response to my sentiment is completely inaccurate and rather ridiculous. I am not a communist, I do not condone mass murders under communist regimes, and I do not hate the rich for being rich? Your response fails to understand that I was not speaking of my own opinions, but instead was merely making observations and posing rhetorical questions.

  • Astron

    I never said you were a communist or that you would condone mass murder, rather that the observations and questions you pose at the end of your article are similar to the views that come under communism. I was stressing, that personaly, I don’t think what you are saying is either possible or the right thing to do.

  • Posh Bird

    Articles like this are supposed to create reactions; if you’re willing to publish your opinions and put your name to them, you have to accept any comments or criticisms you may receive – whether they agree with you or not. Astron is just doing what you did, James, as the author. He published his ideas and it just so happens that they are not the same as yours. Developing a thick skin as a journalist is vital; there’s no need to react to these comments unless what they are saying requires it. Even if he didn’t completely understand your point, that’s just something for you to think about when writing your next article. Read it back, think about how it might be read by others and make yourself clearer if you wish to avoid comments as the one above. Reading your comment back made me think you were a bit naive and not willing to accept the reactions that you have created. Read the comments and be pleased that your article and ideas have provoked some thought in somebody – it’s all positive in some way.

  • jamesrfyfe

    In hindsight I did rather overstep the mark in my passionate defence of my views. Sorry.

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