Has respect finally gone away? I guess its a burning question one that could have hundreds of different answers, personally my mindset suggests there should be only one plausible answer, and that is “yes”, now that’s just me saying this and who the hell am I to form any basis of opinion or provide any sort of an answer, well I’d like to feel that i’am best placed to think like this as after all im only answerable to myself.
So why do i feel respect has finally gone away? Its easy to see in everyday life all around us, the respect we should give our fellow human beings is on the edge of obliteration, doors are rarely held open, elderly are not afforded seats on a bus or on a park bench, opinions are simple dismissed or ridiculed, how you think, what you do, how you conduct yourself, are now targets for people to pick apart, the list is endless and exhausting but one thing I see that irks me, is lack of respect for our war dead and our war memorials.
So looking closer to my home in Leigh, my office sits by a small grassed square that was made into cenotaph Square in the center is a large Portman Stonecolumn set on a two-step plinth on a stepped flagged base, unveiled 01st November 1922 attended by Lt Gen Sir Beauvoir De Lisle KCB KCMG DSO, re-dedicated 20th May 1955 attended by the Earl (18th) of Derby, these were grand events where hundreds turned out so share the moment, to offer respect, thoughts and prayers to the 708 names on the monument who went to fight for freedom but sadly never came home.
During the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, in the late 70s, 80s and early 90s it began to change for the worse, then hitting the 00s all downhill, the cenotaph and gardens were a place of solitude a place to reflect, pause and offer a passing thought to all those it represents, a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice given, the cenotaph for all those years was clean and tidy, the fencing all prestigious with shiny paint, the small gardens and flowers well tended, the little fences around the trees and flower beds neat and clean, the hedge rows litter free and cut impeccably straight. But something started to change towards the end of the 90s an attitude change, that would spread like an unwelcome fungas all across the country and infact the world, people started to forget or couldn’t be bothered remembering, respect for these places of solitude began to waiver, investment and resources scaled back, attitudes changing for the worse, such sacrifices given by millions of men and women globally now only being remembered by a minority not the majority.
Our cenotaph in Leigh is suffering this downward spiral, the flowers beds filled in, the once beautiful hedge rows removed as they became hiding places for perverts or convenient places to hide drugs, the railing once beautifully painted now, looking weathered and tired, everything removed so all that sits in this once flourishing area, are small grass verges and a handful of established trees, benches are there so you can sit in the sun and enjoy your lunch if you so wish, hold that thought though for a moment….
So for the last 6 years I’ve been watching the cenotaph with sadness and disgust and the reason for me putting my thoughts down on the sheer lack of respect, I mentioned in the last paragraph sitting having your lunch in the sparse cenotaph, well that thought sadly has gone, I’ve watched in anguish as the cenotaph the place of respect, solitude, quiet reflection has been taken over by broad day light drug dealers, by large groups of middle aged alcoholics sitting all day drinking Tenants Super and bottles of cheap nasty cider, creating awful anti-social behavior, its now a favoured haunt for numerous drug addicts off their face on heroin or cocain, spiceheads falling all over this once sacred of area’s, also all the local shoplifters and thieves swap goods in the open, uncaring at their absolute lack of respect for the place they are desecrating, all this happens under a full set of CCTV cameras, they don’t care because nothing happens, I’ve witnessed them urinating against the monument, squatting and doing the other in the cenotaph square, I’ve seen feral teens kicking footballs against the monument, I’ve challenged an unruly group of Eastern Europeans throwing the poppy wreaths around, why isn’t respect shown anymore?
This is a daily occurrence yes I’ve called the police dozens of times, who come out eventually an move them on, an hour later they are back, sadly with police numbers decimated to frightening levels, how can they be expected to maintain order? I’ve contacted the council who offer lip service to the plight, which usually boils down to cost and resource, I’ve spoken with local councillors who do try their best but in 6 years still nothing has changed, I’ve arranged a mass clean up with volunteers which was an incredible day still it reverts back to how it was. This is how the 708 names on that monument are being remembered, this is how much respect their sacrifice is being afforded, the fact that people actively avoid the cenotaph is a sad testament to the failure of society as a whole, we’d sooner avoid the problem than fix it, my pondering question is quite simple and im still at a loss to find an answer.
Why has respect gone away?