Thursday 18 January 2024

Bronson Battersby: A case of unneighbourly indifference

You live in a neighbourhood

Think about where you live and the people who live in proximity to you whether in passing or in full acknowledgement you know who they are.

Beyond those you can interact with in terms of communication, they might have children that you have noticed but are too young for your typical conversation, they might also have pets, a cat or a dog, but how would you know if you are not observant and probably curious?

Then, what constitutes your neighbourhood that you notice is out-of-place, unusual, or unexpected? A stranger you have never seen before prowling your street, a usually occupied house that seems deserted or new people have just moved in. Strange happenings that elicit that double-take and enough of that innate inquisitiveness just to assure yourself that things are the way they should be.

Beware of indifferent neighbours

That constitutes a sense of neighbourliness, a general awareness of your surroundings that is both for your safety and convenience as much as it is for your neighbours, an unwritten code of coexistence of everyone inadvertently watching out for everyone else.

What you cannot afford to be is self-centred indifferent that the inclination to be the brother’s keeper or the Good Samaritan is lost to not being bothered or concerned even when some gut feeling suggests you should exercise yourself to the stimuli of events that are not commonplace.

This is what hurts me most about the case of Bronson Battersby, a two-year-old toddler who was found beside his dead father having died of dehydration and starvation within earshot of at least someone for whom I cannot yet find the words to describe as they would be unprintable and still be an understatement. [ITV: Bronson Battersby: Neighbour 'pretty sure' she heard toddler crying days before death]

It just beggars belief

However, that is not the only failing, Bronson was under the care of social services but a lethargic lackadaisical attitude to his plight meant he was not discovered for another 7 days when a little more persistence and concern might have possibly discovered the child barely alive but with the prospect of survival.

Yet, it is the neighbour that attracts the greater wrath, in my view. The news story suggests this neighbour was ‘pretty sure’ she heard a toddler crying. Whether the quotes belong with the phrase is beside the point. If you heard a toddler crying and no doubt one in distress because there was no care for it, it had to have been for a prolonged period, perhaps a day or two, and not just in the daytime but in the nighttime too.

This indifference is evil

Nothing, it seems persuaded this neighbour to investigate and determine the source of this crying. She could not be bothered, it would soon stop, she must have thought, and it did eventually stop at the point where Bronson was totally exhausted, dehydrated, starved, weak, and unable to do anything more, he lay down beside his father who apparently had suffered a massive heart attack days before, and died.

In my heart of hearts, I pray we never have so totally indifferent people as neighbours because they are evil and lacking in any humanity. I have always made it a point of duty to be acquainted with my neighbours and to have at least one neighbour with whom I can share much more in neighbourliness, a set of keys, the occasional visit for tea or a meal and someone to just have general life conversations with. They matter.

Cultivate neighbourliness for your own safety

Neighbourliness is more than just living next door; it is knowing who is there and caring enough to check on them and know that they are okay. Especially as I live alone, the issue of neighbourliness is more acute, my neighbour would knock on my door if she has not seen me for days. When I had chest pains, the ambulance crew met me at my neighbour’s and from there I was taken to hospital, my neighbour sitting with me through the night in A&E for over 10 hours.

Elsewhere, when I was gravely ill in hospital, my neighbours attended to all issues and on returning home, did my shopping, some cooking, my laundry and every other thing I had no strength to do. When I was going away for weeks, my neighbour ensured my place was secure and looked after.

I have a relationship with my neighbour, you are brought together by circumstances you usually would not have predetermined, but you see the humanity in each other to build trust enough to know that you have their back as much as they have yours.

He need not have died

Bronson Battersby need not have died if he had good neighbours, he was crying and he was most definitely heard, it was his only means of communication, his desperate call for help, but he was ignored. However, I say, cultivate good neighbourliness and know that the people who live around you matter for both your safety and security.

Rest in peace, dear Bronson Battersby, you deserved better, much, much better.

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