In the new year, let’s remember to be human

This evening, I came across an article that explored a criminal case where a woman had been assaulted, shot, and burnt alive. The article was titled: Men jailed for bashing, shooting and setting Victorian woman alight. The victim’s name is Simon Quinlan.

That night

As I laid in my bed trying to sleep, I thought about what might have happened to that led to Simone’s murder and how different parts of different systems had failed her. I wondered what had happened to her so that she became homeless and turned to drugs to find comfort. I asked myself how Simone might have lost custody of her children. I wondered why we as a community hadn’t identified that she was in trouble and needed our help. I was curious as to why the police didn’t give this woman the protection she deserved. I wondered why the two men who had followed a violent culture and presumably had a history of violence had been allowed the freedom to commit violence and ultimately murder. And yet I also wondered what had happened in their childhood and adolescent years that influenced their lives in such a tragic way.

It won’t stop…

This story is not uncommon. I was reminded of the tragic events of an American woman who had lost her newborn. The woman had just had her baby and was discharged from hospital prematurely due to lack of funds. In order to reach home, she ordered a cab. Although she only had a few coins, the driver did not let her go until she had paid him several dollars above what she owed him. Once at home, she only had a few dollars left. She and the baby were cold and there was no heating. Leaving the baby at home in order to purchase blankets, the woman returned to find that her dog had eaten the baby because it was starving. This story epitomises the failure of our systems in identifying and supporting those in need.

I was also reminded of the hundreds, if not thousands, of tragic stories which I read in my favourite Egyptian newspaper as a kid. In fact, newspapers had a specific section for tragic events that I would keep coming back to every week.

Unless we change.

In my line of work as a designer, I often see people creating or following systems, processes and policies that ultimately result in suboptimal outcomes for the public. Unfortunately, I have learnt that many people follow a strategy of self-preservation. That’s not to say that there aren’t people who are empowered and motivated to do better for the community and the people around them. It is to say, however, that we must collectively and individually change in order to help each other.

Whether it be in the healthcare space, the disability space, or domestic violence, we must work together to help. It may be my naive way of looking at the world, but I certainly believe that together, we are stronger.

My firm hope for the new year is that we remember our humanity so that we work together and for one another to improve our lives, both collectively and individually. If each of us applies this principle in their own context, I am sure that our world will be a better place.

In 2018, I hope to be brave enough to remind myself and those around me of our humanity. I sincerely hope you can join me to help one other so that stories like Simone’s are remembered but not experienced.

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Human-centred designer. ThinkPlace. Designing for positive outcomes.

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Abram El-Sabagh

Human-centred designer. ThinkPlace. Designing for positive outcomes.