Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Chaos empowered!"

Big news in the paper here today was the pay rise heads of tertiary institutions were getting. I think the head of the university is on a salary ten times bigger than mine. Now I don't know if that is fair or not but that news led to a breakfast table discussion about mixed up values, the gap between the rich and poor and the impact such news has on poor people. Because we are building we are going to a hardware store and I know that the sales people in the trades area are on the absolute minimum wage. (We have been growling about the service we have been receiving... or not receiving actually.) I was talking to a woman on Sunday who does caring duties for elderly people in their homes. She helps them shower, wash and dress and does house work. She too is on a very low hourly rate. We have a severely handicapped daughter and we know that her carers are on a very low rate of pay. They do everything for her really, including changing night time nappies on this now adult woman. The turn over of carers is astounding, which is not at all good for our Pania. Another example is that nurses and carers in elderly peoples' homes do not earn high salaries. Yet we pay our sports people hundreds of thousands of dollars and even millions??? What are we saying to the poorly paid people about the value of their work? What are we saying about their value as people?

What I believe happens when the gap between rich and poor is very high is that in some way shape or form the poor say "F*** you!" to the rest of us. Some work out their anger in crime. Sometimes I am sure this feeling is behind the mindless vandalism we experience in our cities. Some say it by getting away with as little work as possible in their jobs, like the service people in the hardware store. It is my belief that when the gap between rich and poor is very high, society pays for it in some way. The community is hurt and the "forces of chaos" that work against a harmonious world, are fueled and empowered. "Law and order" becomes an issue for our communities; our nations and indeed our world. But if you have read your Bibles you would have seen such warnings in the Old Testament prophets' rantings. That's why I try to do my bit by getting alongside the poor and being their friend in practical ways. I don't know if I make much impact but that's why I do it. The old "Peter, Paul and Mary" song asked the question; "When will we ever learn"?

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