Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Why fighting?

Rug of many shades, representing a group of many shades.
The Bad News
Israel and Palestine...
I heard a Palestinian talking once about the situation for people in the Gaza strip. It was very concerning. They were denied basic rights and necessities like water and access to health care etc. etc. The whole history of that area is fraught with hatred and human hunger for power, made more complicated by historical decisions made by larger powers. Over the last few days there has been ghastly scenes of renewed fighting. Men, women and children have been killed. Why? It is so sad that children grow up in the midst of fighting and learn hatred. It is not the way life is meant to be.
I have just watched a documentary on the Syrian people's struggle for freedom. An ill equipped rag tag looking rebel army willing to fight to the death against the president's regime. A president who using all his military power attempts to quash the rebellion by hitting out at civilians, sometimes in cruel ways.  Incredible suffering and death. It is extremely sad. Why?
Lost jobs...workplace deaths.
The Hillside railway workshops are being closed in Dunedin with the subsequent loss of many jobs. It has been a proud place of engineering skill for many, many decades. It once had its own brass band. It had its own St John Ambulance unit. Now it will be empty buildings and railway carriages will be made in China at a fairly slim and debatable financial advantage. We know a family whose life will be impacted by this. "What about the mortgage on the house?" the wife said to me. A report came out about the Pike River coal mine disaster that happened exactly two years ago. The report claimed the company had placed "profit above the safety of people". I get the feeling that while most workplaces do not end up with the sort of tragic deaths that Pike River experienced, there are plenty of examples of "profit over people" thinking. I see overworked and stressed people taking on the extra responsibilities of those who have lost their jobs in the name of efficiency. 
Good News
Cross cultural celebration!
On Friday mornings at our Church a women's group meets made up of a great variety of cultures. It is called "Women Across Cultures". They were looking for a space, we knew a number of them so we offered them a room in our Church building and have supported them as they have evolved. Last Saturday night they held a celebration of one year of meeting. I wish I had photos of the event, it was so good. Over 100 people attended and enjoyed a variety of foods from all sorts of countries. As well as that we had items from various cultures. Dancing from India and South America. Martial arts from Japan. Songs were sung from Sri Lanka, poems from Africa and Scotland, art work from a Korean lady and so it went on. Before the meal we had a grace that various religions could identify with. It was so great seeing this mixture of people enjoying this special event. I saw at the back of the room an Iraqi man sitting in friendly conversation with a man from Iran! There were countless hugs and groups of people in warm conversation all around the room. Christians, Muslims, Hindus and people of no religious affiliation all enjoying time in our Chapel. (Space2B) I looked and thought, "This is of God! Why isn't the world like this?" The ladies gave my wife and I a crochet rug which they had made. There were squares of various shades representing the variety of cultures in the group. Amidst the bad news above there are shining examples of an alternative way of seeing things. I hope it catches on, we need more harmony in the world. 

Some ideas for an extension of this sort of harmony are bubbling away. Watch this space.

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