A teenage friend was in our town selling red heart pins to raise funds for his school. Some folks bought one knowing it was for a good cause. Then there was everyone else. They dashed across the street just so they didn't have to walk by.
They pretended not to see him: "Anything on sale in the shop window?" A parody of bad acting.
To test a theory, our friend moved to a spot between two buildings separated by nothing but a blank wall. Putting on his most engaging smile, he continued calling for people to help support the local school.
Up came a middle-aged man with eyes lost in the land of middle-aged thoughts. As he approached, he focused briefly on my friend and quickly looked away, staring intently at---the wall. There was no shop, no other people, not even a sign. But that didn't matter. The wall would do.
He went by, joining a growing group of people too busy and too apathetic to offer 50 cents for an always under-funded, forever under-staffed part of our lives.
The recent and continued exodus of teachers helps emphasize what too many governments don't want to fix. Whether in Dublin or Mayo, the problem is certainly the same. "Don't bother me," some people seem to say. "It's my money."
But watch out, for the mirk of hell doth rise when I find you're not spending enough to teach my kid.