Posted on 01/26/2006 11:09 PM EST
What Kind of City do We Really Live In?
That there is a responsibility to be assigned for the freezing deaths of an elderly couple is a foregone conclusion. Where that responsibility lies remains the unanswered question.
What is certain is that there is no reason whatsoever for a tragedy of this dimension to happen in any city, let alone this city. We often hear or read about this kind of tragedy taking place in a large urban area and exhale with a sense of relief that we live in a city that is still small town, one which still values and takes care of its own; at least that’s what we hear.
Can we really continue to say that though when just last December, a mother, Brittany Lilly and her son Devin died in a house fire caused by using improper heating equipment and kerosene heating units because they could not afford to properly heat their home? Can we continue to say that if we just witnessed what happened?
The deaths of the elderly couple, Ida and Alfredo Quiroz, serve as a vivid, living example of what happens when we lose focus of the things that really matter. Until we regain our focus and stop pretending that the potential for things like this happening do not exist in this city, we will always be in danger of these things reoccurring.
What strikes me is that public comments do not reflect the severity of a situation like this. News accounts in the mainstream media are sketchy at best; comments from utility company spokespersons seem more interested in explaining their policy rather than expressing their regret about what happened to these two individuals and ensuring that these types of situations do not happen again.
As residents of this city, most of us look to our government officials to have a vision of a certain quality of life in this city that takes all people into consideration. That’s one of the benefits of investing in a city by paying taxes. But when great plans are devised that will for example, grow commercial development or increase property tax rolls, or regulate commerce, too often people like the Quiroz are left out of that equation. Are we more intent on ensuring financial profits as opposed to protecting our human resources?
But in case you think I am assigning blame, think again.
Rather, it seems to me that it might just be proof of the kind of society we have become. Perhaps we have reached that point where profits come before people; where survival of the fittest once again rules.
Before we promote this city as a wonderful place to live, as being the “Shangri-La” of the west side of Texas, we better make sure we are a city that protects and helps the less fortunate among us.
Whatever the reason and whomever or whatever is to blame for this tragedy, when will we recognize that without the preservation of our most important resource, the human kind, people like the Quiroz or the Lilly’s, we will not be able to continue to grow as a city or as a society; at least not with a clear conscience.
Rather we are destined to become a city just like any other, a city of strip malls and housing developments, and ordinances designed for those fortunate enough to enjoy them.
All the while, leaving those that also matter, the elderly, those living in poverty, and the less fortunate among us, to their own devices to survive by whatever means necessary?
If so, we should expect that some of them won’t.