Hard to sink any lower

By Ross Pringle

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There are many terms that could be used to describe those responsible for last weekend's attacks on two city charities: criminals, bandits, thieves, burglars, vandals, louts, hooligans, low-lifes and scum are but a few of the less offensive.

Others are more harsh and unlikely to make the pages of a provincial newspaper.

As anyone who has been a victim of a burglary or had property vandalised or damaged in this way will know, the feeling of invasion of privacy and violation is lasting and transcends any cost of replacing what was taken or broken.

Sadly, it is not the first time the Foodbank has been targeted in this way, and while not a lot was taken, there was damage done and the missing goods will need to be replaced.

That money could have been better spent helping other people.

It's similar at the City Mission Shop, where damage and cleaning up items left will end up costing the organisation, depriving it of resources to aid those in need.

To date no one has been charged in relation to either case.

Now as much as we might try to label the people responsible, it doesn't help us understand why they did it.

Worryingly, the fact that no one has been caught suggests that there is still a person or people in our community who are so desperate they will target agencies that are there to help, the safety net for society's vulnerable.

These groups provide a leg-up to those in need, whatever their circumstances and how they came to be in that position.

They make no judgments, they are there to help, regardless of background, ethnicity or beliefs.

So what could possibly drive someone to attack these organisations - bite the hand that feeds as the saying goes? Clearly it is not reasonable to expect a rational assessment of potential outcomes from people who are so out of sorts that they would set their sights on the Foodbank, probably one of only a few groups that, having sunk so low, they could rely on for assistance.

They also would not be of a mind to consider the impact on the volunteers, those who will have to clean up the mess, replace what was taken and, most painfully, turn away deserving folk seeking help because they had to use their meagre funds on repairs.

As much as we might try to look for reasons and causative factors, the simple reality is, the law is the law.

Maybe the person harboured a grievance, although that's hard to imagine given the nature of the targets. Perhaps they were just angry at the world, on drugs or drunk and saw the organisations as soft targets.

Until the culprit is caught, we are unlikely to know. Chances are, if caught the person will trot out the usual lame excuses about upbringing and poverty, possibly being exposed to violence as a child, neglect or substance abuse.

But, as has been stated before, countless people grow up in or live in poverty, are exposed to violence in youth or battle with various addictions yet don't commit crimes.

You only need look to today's feature article on Sebastian Pini (turn to B1). This young man describes his upbringing as very much mirroring the movie Once Were Warriors. He was surrounded by violence and gang influences yet has found a way to express himself and use those influences for good. He appears to have a bright future and is living proof that you can overcome circumstance and barriers.

If we were to apply a label to him, it might easily be inspiration.

Feedback: editor@wanganuichronicle.co.nz

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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