In the main, there are two types of people in the world. The big people and the little people. At any stage in life we can be either, or indeed both. In some scenarios we feel we are the big people because there are little people who we can take advantage of. In other scenarios we feel we are the little people because there are big people telling us what to do, where to be, what to say, if indeed we are allowed to say anything at all.
In all scenarios where the big people think they’re big people, there is a temptation to take advantage, to belittle the vulnerable, to keep the little people little, to make them feel almost invisible. Bullying little people gives big people a sense of importance, no doubt inflated. It emboldens them to be bold so that they can become bigger people, to take advantage of more little people.
In many cases, the worst big people are former little people who have become big people and who are determined to make the most of it. Big people think that nothing makes them look better in the eyes of other big people than the ability to keep little people in their place. Employers, spouses, friends, superiors in rank, friends, family.
And because the best big people are the ones who shout louder, who get angry easier, who are unafraid of the consequences, little people give up hope of ever graduating into the upper echelon.
And so little people become voiceless, unable to shout stop, unable to cease the unfairness of a world seemingly railed against them. They keep to themselves hoping that one day their plight will be seen, that the big people will become nicer and that they get their chance to realise their full potential.
This week more than a million of us watched as some big people thought they were being even bigger people by humiliating little people. It was as if it was for sport. This baiting of little people seemed from the age of the colosseum; we saw big people who really should know better, who more than most of us should know how to treat little people.
For all those scenes from the room in Aras Attracta, we saw how the big people joked with each other about how they treat little people. They even tried to dehumanise them by rarely using their first names, barking orders at them using their surnames, degrading them physically and mentally. As they sat smoking and playing with their smartphones when they should have been minding those they were charged to mind, they showed a strong willingness to mistreat that would not have been out of place in the worst cases of institutionalisation in the gulags.
Food forced down their throats, knees on stomachs and arms to ensure that any resistance would be futile; throwing people with brittle bones around lilke rag dolls. Rag dolls — the playthings of these cruel people who were it not for the media, would still be doing this this morning as you read.
If it were not for the exposure of Tuesday night, those who stand accused of undertaking in some cruelty and heartless behaviour would be starting into another day of the same — the minimum requirement being that they keep the residents alive until the end of their shift and then it’s somebody else’s problem.
Those residents of Bungalow Three would be facing into another day of being left to exist, sitting there, unstimulated, ignored, crying on the inside — their broken hearts probably giving up hope that their plight would ever be seen.
They were not to know that on the mantelpiece sat the piece of technology that would allow their story to be told.
However, there are many other care situations around the country where there is no camera hidden on the mantelpiece to record the mistreatment that goes on. And while the vast majority of care is of the highest standard, the knowledge of what happened in Swinford casts a doubt across the entire sector.
We can all be big people and little people — However, it how we treat those when we have the capacity to do so, that determines the kind of treatment that we will all receive ultimately.