Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Sunday, June 3, 2012

What's going to happen?

The old fireplace and chimney at our daughter & son-in-laws' house.
The two Daves (son-in-law & me) pulling the chimney to peices.

Further down... I am as stuffed as I look.

End product. Tomorrow we take the sarking off the walls and add frame work.

My wife stacked the bricks... the mortar fell off them.

Latest grand daughter pic... she has grown so much in a week! 
I do wonder what is in store for our community, western society and the world? I have always been concerned and try in my small way to make a difference for good. It may be that having a grand daughter has heightened my concern. Let me outline some events.
We have had a city councillor get caught drink driving for the second time. He is an intelligent leader in the community, but he drinks and drives. I have little patience with intelligent adults doing such things. It is just so dangerous for other innocent people! Here we have a community leader without the commonsense to make other arrangements when he has had a few. It is a sad reflection on our community. Another city councillor wrote a nasty personal email sent around to others, to his enemy on the council. From what I saw, it read like the rantings of a mad man! He has had to apologise, but good grief again a community leader acting like a fruit loop! I am disappointed often with the antics and calibre of the people in leadership positions in our community. There are few true statesmen.
There have been images on TV again of the mayhem of binge drinking on our streets. A paramedic told me that these were not isolated cases confined to big Auckland city but nearly every night occurrences on our city streets in Dunedin. The damage caused, the waste of hospital, ambulance and police resources and in many cases the stuffed up lives are all tragic. Some people interviewed said that they had to "top up" so that they could feel uninhibited enough to dance and party. A bit sad, not being confident enough to be themselves. Where are we falling down, the numbers are horrific.
All around I hear of people losing jobs because of the financial squeeze. I am not convinced about our government's handling of the situation, I think once again it will be the poorer or more vulnerable people carrying the brunt of the problem. I also feel there are blatant and not so blatant attempts at social engineering, which makes you wonder where it will stop. The gap between rich and poor widens and is one of the widest.  I used to think NZ was a pretty egalitarian place to live but not any more.
In the wider world....
I was watching TV and the goings on in the Australian Parliament. Once again leaders in the community behaving in immature ways. I receive emails loaded with anti-muslim sentiments with war mongering intent. The Greek economy is apparently fragile and could like a line of dominos cause more economic woes for Europe and further afield.
 I was talking to an Iraqi man and asking him why the Iraqi people seem to be turning against one another. He commented that when you feel your people or your family is going to starve your morals go out the window. That is what is worrying me. We live in a a world with a fragile economy. We have tense relationships between some nations and cultures. One of the attitudes in response to this situation is to build bigger fences between "us" and "the others" and to look for scapegoats to hate or blame. We can search for strength by pushing a dangerous "us against them" mentality. This happens internationally. (President Bush's "If you are not with us you are against us" statement.) It can also happen locally. ( Beneficiaries, Maori - whoever - are causing the government overspending.) In other cash strapped times there were accepted moral guidelines. I'm not sure that people were more deeply spiritual or moral but there were community reinforced roles or ways of behaving that kept life running on reasonable lines. These days we don't have that sort of accepted community standards and pressure. People are much more all out for themselves. I tend to think that as communities in the western world we do not have sufficient people with the moral or spiritual grounding or foundations that enable us to react constructively, peacefully and in a unified way to the problems that confront us as communities and on a worldwide scale. I fear for the future. I also feel that whether people are rich or poor we often lack a deep sense of meaning and purpose in life. We have, if you like, a massive poverty of substantial meaning or spiritual depth. Where there is a vacuum all sorts of other lesser meanings (like the scape goats, "tribalism", racism or an unhealthy patriotism) can fill the gap. Sufficient to say that I am fearful of the future.
I see some signs of hope. I meet various people who may not have a traditional christian spirituality, but are finding a connection with the environment and are moving on to sense a solidarity with all creation including humankind. I enjoy being around these people and their attitudes give me some hope. I may sound pessemistic. I do meet lots of people, and nearly all are good fun to know, are generally kind and well meaning. But I am fearful they do not have deeper foundations and when the pressure comes on I fear they will slide into reacting in ways that "look after number one" only.  Then again, when the pressure comes on it may cause them to discover a deeper essence and unity in life and they will make noble choices. I hope so.
DIY experiences...
Our daughter and her husband helped us with our bathroom so it is our turn to help them. They are doing up, insulating and lining a room in their house. Yesterday we pulled down a chimney and old fire place. I also went to the Night Shelter to do a couple of little jobs. One was installing stays on two window frames. Unfortunately I cracked a window. Oh well .... you cant win them all!

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