Bee's picture
Mon, 11/22/2010 - 07:45 -- Bee

My cousin died on election day and his loss has become entwined in my mind with political mayhem.

Why? Because he was once a beautiful, brilliant baby and someone should have saved him.

Teachers and social workers must have known he was enduring horrific abuse: the bruises and scars were visible. What sort of person is so recalcitrant, such a recidivist, they spend the majority of life from age ten until thirty in jail? A criminal, obviously, but why - what caused it? This is not a trick question. The answer is simple.

Prison is better than home when home is worse than prison.

I do not mourn his death; he chose his own date of departure. Instead I mourn his life, the fact that I was too young to help him, the fact that by the time he helped himself it was too late. The fact that he lived in a country that does not care to give poor children an equal chance, or at least, save them from the worst excesses of destitution.

He could have had some approximation of freedom, if someone, anyone, had intervened. I'm not special or unique within my blood family. We were all allocated the same number of moves on the game board. The only true difference between us? I was never hit. I was protected from violence and successfully fought for an education. He had to fight, with his hands, against his own father, just to stay alive.

This is my simplistic, feral response to government budget cuts: rich people don't care, they don't know, they can't or won't feel it. Poor people are on the front lines, always, first in the queue for suffering. But we paid with toil, sweat, and blood to gain the few scraps of protection on offer in a couple of corners of this globe.

The United Kingdom is not an especially grand example of social equality, but it is good enough. Especially compared to where I grew up, good enough looks like luxury.

If he were alive you could ask my cousin and I am sure he would say he would have enjoyed niceties like electricity, water, and medicine. The chance to go to school. The right to work.

But he is dead.

Of course he is not a symbol. He is my cousin. But he was worth saving, and I am so sad that he is gone.