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To Care or Not to Care – Should That Be a Question?

 

Monday 10th December 2012

In the season when Scrooges come forward in droves to scorn the act of giving, something completely different has happened. A picture of a New York police officer’s spontaneous act of kindness has gone viral on the Internet and captured the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people across the world.

The photograph, snapped by a passing tourist, shows NYPD Officer Larry DePrimo kneeling down to help a homeless man put on the boots he’d just bought for him.  The picture was posted to the New York Police Department’s Facebook page and has been viewed 1.6 million times.

Mr DePrimo, 25, told the media that he had been shocked by the man’s bare feet as it was freezing outside and he could see blisters. Touched by compassion and good will, the young officer found out the man’s shoe size and went to a nearby shop to buy him boots.

While it’s good that such a simple act of kindness has been liked by so many, it is also worrying. Could it be that generosity is now worthy of comment because it is something of the past that’s rarely seen in the 21st century? Are we all becoming too accepting of the idea that it’s ‘every man for himself and God for all’?

Officer DePrimo’s kindness is in stark contrast to behaviour that’s now commonplace in parts of the health service here in the UK. The Care Quality Commission’s recent survey revealed that 10 per cent of hospitals and 15 per cent of care homes weren’t treating patients with respect and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has spoken out.

There should be a return to old-fashioned nursing so that patients receive the quality of care they need and are entitled to. In practice patients are faced with coldness, resentment, indifference and contempt in some of the country’s hospitals and care homes, where cruelty seems to have been normalised.

So, if thousands are surprised by kindness and cruelty is becoming a norm, surely it’s time to change our attitude towards care for other people, whether they are strangers on the street, patients in hospital or anyone else.

Care and compassion should be expressed and practised all year around, not only for the season of goodwill. How about suppressing any Scrooge-like tendencies for good and never limiting your acts of kindness?  Just do both all year round.

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