By Leon A Smith
April 19, 2013
Isn’t it strange how sometimes it takes somebody’s death to remind us that we are still alive. The passing of Margaret Thatcher seems to have focussed the attention of the media and the population generally on her life and work. Yet many people have not thought about or referred to Maggie Thatcher for many years. We have seen occasional pictures of her looking frail, arriving or departing from an event at 10 Downing Street or Westminster but beyond that, certainly for the last decade, she has been largely out of our consciousness.
Most people will be aware that she had been living with the debilitating symptoms of dementia for many years. Dementia is a disease which has heartbreaking symptoms and consequences both for the person afflicted and for family members and friends. Put simply – she has suffered.
Regardless of our political views of her term in office and what she did or didn’t achieve or do, it seems that we as a society in many cases are incapable of showing compassion. The level and degree of bitterness which has manifested itself through demonstrations and the social media debate evidence this.
A frail old lady who is now dead has been subjected to remorseless attacks by her political enemies and by the many and often younger people who have jumped on this particular bandwagon. It is surprising that it is has taken her death to prompt these people into action. I do not recall such vitriolic and bitter attacks and public demonstrations of hate occurring last year or the year before. It somehow seems an indictment of us all that a small group of people are capable of standing at a funeral shouting “Maggie Maggie Maggie Dead Dead Dead” – what have we come to?
My own position on life’s trajectory is much nearer to “old” than it is to “young” and it could be that as we approach that point on the scale that we become more sensitive to issues such as this. In other words I am very conscious of the fact that I am speaking like an “old man” in saying “that something somewhere has gone wrong with our societal value system” (Yes, I do believe there is such a thing as “society”).
Baroness Thatcher was a highly controversial figure. In my view she had both very positive and very negative impacts on our society and on our country. But she was not a child killer. She was not a mass murderer. She was a particularly powerful and strong political leader. Surely nothing that she has done as a politician can warrant the level of hatred and vitriol which we have seen displayed this week.
How are we to expect the younger generation to respect older people when we ourselves cannot even show respect in death? All in all, a slightly surreal week!