Month: July 2016

Brothers and Sisters… 

Quite often, you get called brother or sister by a stranger here in NZ. I love it when that happens as its a term of endearment. I miss being called brother by the boys at the school I used to work at in Auckland. I think I need to use it more often…

This brings me to a thought of the day from a friend on Facebook. I love this so I wanted to share… 

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Thought for today -language and what it says about us. On way back from another doctors trip, I passed a woman in an electric wheelchair outside ASDA, on my way out she’s still there. She’s East African, draped in Syrian flag and looking worried. I smile and she says ‘Sister can you help me? It turns out the chair is on a slope and she doesn’t feel she can move and just needs someone to hold onto while getting off the sloping road to the catch the bus. Fine no probs. 

Little chat with the lady and off I go. What struck me was the use of the word sister. Being brought up in Manchester I was familiar with Asian families using Auntie Ji, to every female adult and certainly everyone else used to refer to friends of the family Aunties and Uncles too. I’m used the’ yo bro, cuz’ slang you hear daily, but imagine if every stranger were our sister and brother, not just our biological family. Imagine if we thought of others as kin and addressed them as such. Resonated with me today, even though to the lady speaking it was a common mode of address.

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Sticks and Stones… 

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Oh, what a palaver!

I’m not one to stifle free speech. People can say whatever they want to me either in person or online. But I kinda need to get this off my chest and then put it behind me. I have an issue with those people that either don’t understand the nuances of their words or people that play the troll role when others have an opinion. Never did I think for one moment this would be so close to home and that someone I knew would actually go down this path with me.

It all stems from this Facebook status update I made:

It’s now about time SOMEONE in Govt and/or the media attempts to apologise for all the xenophobia, hatred and violence this sorry mess of #Brexit has spawned in the UK. Discuss. [10 marks]

I’m just going to post (part of) the conversation here, as is. It tells you all you need to know about how complicated this issue has become.

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Friend 1: How about the leave voters take some responsibility for throwing the UK into chaos and legitimising racism and far-right causes around the world? All I’m hearing is ‘respect my opinion/that’s not what I voted for’. Collective responsibility, people. That’s what’s happening as a result and you were warned. Don’t sit back and wait for those of us who always stand up to fight this when you’ve given everyone permission to ignore us.

Me: Absolutely! I don’t have a problem with which way anybody voted, as long as they voted with their eyes open.

Example: To blame ethnic minorities or Eastern Europeans for the fact you don’t have a job is a bit rich coming from some people, considering their communities live with a self-fulfilling prophecy of unemployment and lack of education that has been entrenched for well over 30 years… I’m old enough to hear the same rhetoric from back in the day. The same blame was laid onto ‘those darkies from the West Indies.’

My message to those relatively few people: This ‘darkie’ worked hard and got a degree and teaching qualification, despite growing up in an environment that meant statistically he shouldn’t have! It wasn’t easy, it’s not supposed to be. But it is possible. You just have to believe in yourself and change your closed minds!

Sermon over!

Friend 1: I’m old enough to remember that too and it makes me weep to see the NF on the street again. To have to fight that all over again 30 years later. Vote any way you please for any reason you like, but if you ‘win’ and there are negative consequences as a result. It’s up to YOU to do something about it, not those who ‘lost’. And if you think the recent rise of the far right is not a consequence of a ‘leave’ vote legitimising Farage et al, you need to wake the **** up. Rant concluded!

Me: Copied from a friend’s status update. This tells you all you need to know about the current mood…

So. I’m doing my bit for the environment today and got the bus into town. Across from me sat this woman. She was having to shout to make herself heard, presumably to her friend further back the bus. Or for other reasons. I quote this accurately if not verbatim, “I’ve worked all me life. Ah work just to pay the rent really. I’ve worked in the doughnut factory all me life. What I hate, like, is…. ‘these’. Comin’ over ‘ere and gettin’ everything.” This rant about ‘these’ was repeated several times.

Nope, I’m no hero but I couldn’t let it lie. So, I leant over and asked her who ‘these’ are meant to be. Since we were both white and middle-aged, she perhaps thought I would naturally be on her side. She replied, with a circular sweep of her hand, “These Eastern Europeans, these Bulgarians an’ Romanians an’ that. They get everything for free.”

At this point, I’m trying to not lose my temper. So I asked her about her family. She said she was on her own but had two useless sons, on the dole with no qualifications, stay in bed all day etc. (Laugh).

Well, alI I can say is it all went downhill from there as she really didn’t like my replies. I finished by reminding her that despite the referendum, racism is still illegal. I felt angry that she couldn’t even bear to follow her use of ‘these’ with the word ‘people’. She stormed off the bus swearing loudly at me but by that time most people were laughing at her and joining in with me.

So, now those with such disgusting, shameful and ugly beliefs seem to feel it is safe for them to spout off their racist nonsense in public. NOT SO.

Foe: Malcolm, as you do not actually reside here the UK at present how about winding your neck in and just accept the fact that the vote went the way it did? Or is democracy not an option anymore?

Friend 2: He still has a right to his opinion. This vote will impact on many people around the world if we split the UK and the EU. Globalisation is here to stay and if we don’t find ways to connect and work with each other our isolation will harm all of us, not just the remain voters. It’s not really democracy if the campaign was won on the back of lies and misinformation. That in itself has to be fought, particularly given the rampant racism it has released. It was shameful and the consequences are shameful. I believe other democracies that use the referendum system have a cut-off point where one side has to reach at least 60%. If they don’t the debate happens again and then another referendum. It’s a process where the issues can be properly discussed, not a binary simplistic campaign where people are exhorted to ignore the experts. Furthermore, our democracy is based on parliament making the ultimate decisions, that’s why we have elections and give our MP’s the responsibility to govern.

Me: Foe: You may want to read what I have said here again…

I have no problem with the way the vote went. I have no problem with who won. I have no problem with how anybody voted, as long as they did so with their eyes open to the consequences.

When it comes to racism, xenophobia and evilness, NO! I will not stand for anybody doing that to another human being.

My status has nothing to do with the vote itself. Just the horrible consequences.

It is against the law to incite hatred. It’s an act of terrorism. I don’t want to break the law. Nobody else should! Laws exist for a reason…

So, at some point in the future, I may choose to once again live in the ‘Disunited’ or ‘Untied’ Kingdom. I’d like to know that I would be safe from attack or any other abuse, in just the same way as I wouldn’t wish you to be attacked for being a human being.

I hope that clears the matter up. I’m sorry if being a good citizen upsets you. I just remember being a child in the 70’s and having movements like The National Front making many British citizens feel uncomfortable in their own country of birth! Let’s not go back there. I just thought the world had moved on from all of that…

Friend 3: I’m the child of foreigners, and I grew up in a neighbourhood essentially filled with other children whose parents were too, and there was also a fair contingent of Maori. Hardly any pakeha per se. My parents both came out of the hell that was post-war Europe, but that didn’t mean they had to put up with racism or xenophobia quietly. The joke in our house was that when my mother learnt English (ironically the language of the coloniser, not even the indigenous language) that all you had to learn to say was ‘NZ is a beautiful country’, and the pakeha a would walk away smugly.

I live in a small country, where the English feel they still should be congratulated for invading, and there is wonderment at the racism that lurks here. Wake up! Isolating yourself from the rest of Europe will only encourage such reactions to so-called ‘foreigners’. And there are many in the world presently laughing at the former top coloniser whining about having to close it’s doors to foreigners. You were the foreigners! You came and trampled on so many people’s rights! You stole land and fought with the indigenous trying to save their homes and now you are whining! Get over it- we have a beautiful planet to live on.

Stop your poor excuses for more racism and xenophobia, open your hearts and your doors to your fellow humans… because frankly, living in a cold miserable place is often not the first choice for many. Have some compassion, as others will have for you should anything happen to your home. And if you can’t, well then you’ve got a big history lesson coming up.

Me: Thanks Friend 3! They say lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place. I’m beginning to disbelieve that theory…

Friend 3: *sigh* that’s just tragic. Perhaps you should say that to her at some stage down the line, when the dust has settled (for more of an impact) I’m sorry😔

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Sticks and stones may break my bones…