Plea for understanding and thought
For a closer community
As we all try to recover from the shocks nature has flung at us during the past weeks, it is interesting to reflect on the workings of the human mind, and how easily prejudice can colour our thinking and judgements.
For instance, while I tried to get my mind around the trauma suffered by people in Christchurch during the big earthquake and the subsequent aftershocks, I couldn’t help feeling disgusted by those who tried to take advantage of the situation by entering damaged properties to see what they could steal.
Many of us white middle-class citizens would automatically conclude that such felons were brown, tattooed and of the lower socio-economic class. But no! When the first of these looters came to court, it was revealed they were white, not children, and, I would guess, not exactly poverty-stricken.
So what gets into the minds of such people who think it is okay to help themselves to others’ property? Do they have a grudge against those who have worked hard to build up a business? Do they get a kick out of doing something illegal just for the fun of it?
Do they feel they have a right to take whatever they can lay their hands on, even if it is specialised equipment for disabled youngsters?
For most of us who tend not to do these things, it is impossible to understand. We were brought up with the notion that other people’s property was sacred and we could not just help ourselves to it. Our version of morality appears light years away from what pertains today.
So where is all this leading? Just to a plea not to give in to our personal assumptions and prejudices in our dealings with those we don’t understand.
Recently, Grey Power in Napier invited two members of Black Power to come and address their meeting. Now, I am sure many people would think, ‘‘But they’re all criminals. We don’t want to hear from them.’’
However, as Napier members found, they are actually human beings, regardless of the regalia and the tattoos and the like. And, like other human beings, they have children and extended families. They have ambitions for their kids, just like other parents.
As Charles Colton wrote in 1825, ‘‘ We hate some persons because we do not know them, and we will not know them because we hate them.’’
I would really like to see an approach similar to that of Napier Grey Power made here in our little city. Porirua is a multifaceted community and we Grey Power members are only one facet, just as gangs are another facet. If we made the effort to understand one another instead of allowing our prejudices to rule us, surely our community would be much safer.
If we talk to, and listen to each other, surely a basis of respect and understanding is laid. I shall continue to dream. Last month, we were supposed to hear from MP Sue Kedgeley, but she was detained in Christchurch following the earthquake, so the co-leader of the Green Party, Russel Norman, joined us instead. He had some very interesting observations to make on the path New Zealand is following economically and environmentally at the moment.
This month, Peter Dunne will address us. As Minister of Revenue, he should be able to enlighten us on some of the burning issues which occupy our minds now that all our purchases are burdened with both the ETS and the GST increase. Save up some curly questions and take the opportunity to pose them.
Date: Tuesday, October 12. Time: 1.30pm. Venue: The Porirua Club, Lodge Place, Porirua. Contact: Helen Griffith Phone: 236 0112.