Bitter Fruit - Media Comment By Paul Smith
It was an everyday morning in an ordinary Auckland suburb, the sun filtering through light cloud cover, and on the ground the faintest breeze. We drove down leafy St Andrews Road and saw another everyday sight - an elderly woman returning to her unit carrying a plastic shopping bag in one hand, and her handbag in the other.
A second or two earlier and we could have turned into our street never noticing the little drama played out ahead. But as we were about to make the turn we saw the woman crumple, fall on the footpath. She'd been jumped from behind by a youth who snatched her handbag and sprinted into the side-street. We chased after him but he joined two others in their waiting car and they raced off before we could get a number plate.
We got the make and colour, called 111 then returned to the elderly woman who was in shock. Neighbours helped her home in what should have been an everyday morning in her ordinary suburb. If she was shocked then so were we. The sight of her collapsing under her attacker's weight lingered for days. Her old age wasn't valued - instead they saw it as an opportunity, much as stalking hyenas might isolate weakened prey.
This week, the news media were full of another case involving an elderly woman and the alleged taping of her mouth in an Epsom rest home. You could hear the shock all the way from ministerial offices to talkback radio. People muttered about the lack of respect for the elderly. And you have to wonder: We Boomers grew up rebelling, rejecting authority in all its forms. Could it be that a generation or so later, the seeds of that rebellion have produced this bitter fruit?
Smith is a journalist and author and founder of kiwiboomers.co.nz a site written by
boomers for boomers.