Our real treasures?
I was interested recently, when the annual Rich List was published, that those whose incomes are the highest in the country were described as ‘‘national treasures’’.
Really? Why? Just because they have managed to acquire, by whatever means, heaps more money than the rank and file in the community? Just because they have billions or mere millions in their bank accounts?
Does this fact necessarily produce a ‘‘national treasure’’? I think not.
Let’s face it. The nature of the human being is to acquire – money, status, goods, the attention of the opposite sex, drugs, whatever. The more one has, the more one tends to want, whether or not that more is necessary.
What do these super-rich do with all their millions, anyway?
There is only so much you can spend, I would have thought. Certainly, there are some who, besides being super-rich, are super-generous and are noteworthy for their support of those less fortunate. They surely are treasures. But for the rest? They are only rich.
So, who would I consider a ‘‘national treasure’’?
How about the Mad Butcher who, despite health problems, rushes around the country raising money for the likes of Christchurch? Definitely.
Then there are those thousands of volunteers without whom the majority of our notfor-profit aid agencies would fall over. And what about those who improve the outlook of the less fortunate by simply smiling at them, talking to them and generally treating them as people instead of blights on our society?
Add to these the people who have little but nevertheless make the effort to send money to emergency situations in our country and around the world.
In the area of treasures, the Maori have it right, of course.
A taonga is something or someone with a spiritual significance, an attribute mere money can never have. Yet, as Max Lerner wrote: ‘‘ In our culture we make heroes of the men who sit on top of a heap of money, and we pay attention not only to what they say in their field of competence, but to their wisdom on every other question in the world.’’
Money, or the acquisition of it, can be seen as the be-all and end-all of many of our human activities.
I could cite the Rugby World Cup (I hope I don’t get sued for using those hallowed words!) as an example.
What is all the hype about, really? Is it the rugby, the sportsmanship, the rivalry, or even the trophy?
In essence, no.
It is all about making as much money as possible – especially for the International Rugby Board, but that’s another argument.
Everyone connected to the RWC – tourism operators, travel agents, accommodation owners, sellers of All Black lookalike jerseys, and so on, appears to be hiking up the prices to make the highest profit possible through this ‘‘historic’’ event.
Certainly, money or its equivalent is necessary for us to survive in this world. But we have so many more important things to regard as treasures.
There are true friends, for instance, and children. There is our multi-cultural community. There is our beautiful physical environment.
Sometimes I think we have our priorities all wrong.
Perhaps we should appreciate our real treasure, then maybe we wouldn’t make heroes out of those who have lots of money and miss the taonga touching our lives every day.
The speaker at this month’s Grey Power meeting is Brendan Wilson from the Electoral Commission.
Are you, like me, mystified by the differences between the voting options being offered by referenda at the next election?
Come and find out how each system works, so you can decide which option to select, come November 26.
Date: Tuesday Sept 13. Time: 1.30pm. Venue: The Porirua Club, Lodge Pl, Porirua. Contact: Helen Griffith 236 0112.