Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Social Responsibility.

Is there such a thing in this world as Social Responsibility? (Social responsibility is an ethical ideology or theory that an entity, be it an organisation or individual, has an obligation to act to benefit society at large. Social responsibility is a duty every individual or organisation has to perform.)

My rhetorical question is prompted by one despicable act carried out by one individual upon another less fortunate. The public perception of social responsibility has seemingly changed. I can remember a time when people tended to watch out for each other. Looking back it seems such a distant time.)

I had a small group of friends as a child and the river and canal was our playground. The River Rother had been straightened at this point leaving a small elbow shaped lake. The water was very clear and there was an abundance of weed and wildlife. The river by comparison was quite dirty and polluted so we always used the lake for swimming. One nice and warm summers day we had built a raft out of planks of wood and other bits and pieces. Like all children we had been having a wonderful time the day had flown by and it was now time to go home. As we were getting dressed someone said where is Dave?

Dave had disappeared we all immediately went searching for him. Dave was discovered under the raft. We pulled him ashore and as he was coughing and spluttering. we knew that he had not come to any real harm other than having a shock to his system. That's was the way we were. we had a social responsibility to each other - to us we were just great friends and that was the way it was. like all children we did not see and danger in what we were doing, we were all accomplished swimmers. It was just one of those things. A few days later, we were all back at the lake swimming without a care in the world. All none the worse for the experience.

Contrast that with today.

Adam Lowther was cycling along the towpath on the Leeds Liverpool Canal at Kirkstall. He was following some distance behind Michael Houghton another cyclist who for some reason fell off his bike into a canal. For Adam Lowther there was no question of any compassion or social responsibility. This to Adam Lowther was an opportunity and he stole Michael Houghton the drowning man's bike. Adam Lowther rode away on the mountain bike, making no attempt at a rescue. He made no attempt to alert the the police or any other of the emergency services.

Adam Lowther was later traced by the police after selling Michael Houghton's bike for  £20 at a  second hand shop. He admitted to police that he has seen Michael Houghton unconscious in the water, and had left him. Recording an open verdict, the West Yorkshire Coroner said "Adam Lowther could have tried to get Mr Houghton out of the water, and the fact that he didn't and stole Michael Houghton's bike shows what a thoroughly cowardly and despicable young man he is. Adam Lowther received a four months prison sentence for the theft of the bike.

It was later in the evening that a walker and another cyclist came across the body, dragged it out of the water and attempted resuscitation, but all attempts were to no avail.

Now, I am not an apologist or a do-gooder for Adam Lowther, far from it. But for the coroner to say that Adam Lowther was a coward is wrong. We teach our children never to enter the water for any reason. If there is one person in the water in difficulties, then a second person entering the water creates a second casualty. As a first aider, if I come across someone unconscious in the water. My first responsibility is to myself to remain safe and my second responsibility to the other person is to summon appropriate help.

Despicable, Adam Lowther may well be so in our opinion. But today we know that our children carry knives, some carry guns, and the need for a fix of drugs are possibly the main driver for the current level of theft. Life is of little value in the peer group of Adam Lowther and other young people today. I can offer no other reason for the actions of Adam Lowther other than for some young people this is the way of life.

I could not have ignored Michael Houghton. I would have summoned help, I would have attempted some form of recovery from the water. But that's me and that's my personal values to go to the aid of someone who is a stranger but in difficulties. Its the way we were brought up and would be an instinctive reaction.



  1. Someone should post the photo of this low life so we all recognise him in the future.

  2. From the report in the Daily Mail
    "Had there been an offence for not being a Good Samaritan, as there is in France, I would have charged Lowther with that, but there is not." Maybe we need that in the UK.


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