Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Photos, aging, reading and opinionated waffle...

Bell Bird
Rosella (Aussie thief)
My free wood shed made from others' rubbish. 
The photos show some of the local bird life getting sustenance from our garden. Bell Birds have a beautiful song and frequent the bush around here. The Tui is different shades of black and blue except for a  tuft of white on its chest. Rosellas are an import from Australia and love to steal my apples. Come to think of it, the other animals to steal my apples are possums, and they originate in Australia too! Our Red Hot Poker flowers attract them close to our kitchen.  I built my wood shed out of scraps I had hoarded around my acre. The floor, the beams and the front wall come from under the "free firewood" sign at the big hardware store in town. The two end walls come from stuff thrown out from two churches in town. The Iron on the back wall and roof come from a house I helped demolish about thirty years ago. Even most of the nails were discards from building sites. 
A month or so ago I smacked my elbow (funny bone area) against a wall. I did not think much of it expecting it to be tender for a while then heal. Weeks later I started building my shed, which involved heaps of hammering. This has caused my elbow to flare up again, and my whole arm is in pain. At the end of my last two building sessions I just could not swing my hammer any more. When I did it fell from my grasp. I had little power to swing it and my grip had gone.  Even pouring a cup of tea with my right hand has been risky and painful.  This is me, the one who is bullet proof and could swing a hammer and do hard labour for days on end with no problems? I have a firefighter who is a masseuse who is well known as having "healing hands". He can take one look at you, or even a photo of you walking, and tell you what leg injury you have.  He massaged my arm and told me it is a ligament injury and, if I kept working with it, it could take two years to heal, if it does heal at all.  Life does not always go the way you want it.
I read the biography of Norman Kirk, the labour Prime Minister of New Zealand from November 1972 until he died in office in August 1974. It has been an interesting read because I was a young adult in Australia during those years, but had seen Kirk's rise to power.
It was a sad read because I knew the ending. He came to power with great ideals, made massive changes and had a great impact in New Zealand and overseas. But politically the oil crisis hit and England got involved with the common market. The New Zealand economy then failed and Norman Kirk's health was also failing, and he died. I knew that, but, as I read the book, something inside me still hoped it would turn out OK. Real life does not always go as we want it, does it? 
One other thing struck me. The book said, "The strong foundation of Christian values inculcated in his youth, coupled with the grim experience of growing up in a poverty-stricken family before and during the 1930s Depression, built a personal philosophy based on social justice, freedom and security for all. Every person, he believed, had the inalienable right to work, to have decent housing, to enjoy good health and to have a proper education." It reminded me of another quote I had read. “Every Cab Horse in London has three things; a shelter for the night, food for its stomach, and work allotted to it by which it can earn its corn. These are the two points of the Cab Horse's Charter. When he is down he is helped up, and while he lives he has food, shelter and work. That, although a humble standard, is at present absolutely unattainable by millions—literally by millions—of our fellow-men and women in this country. Can the Cab Horse Charter be gained for human beings? I answer, yes." That is a quotation from William Booth, the man who started the Salvation Army. It is interesting that as a child and youth Norm Kirk attended the Salvation Army.  They are both right in their ideals though. 
Opinionated waffle...
I am horrified over the cost of alcohol abuse in this wee country of ours. A young man died recently in our hospital as the result of an accident that happened when he and his mates were fooling around.... after drinking too much alcohol. That sort of story line is repeated regularly. Four young guys got a total of 71 years in prison because together they murdered another young man after drinking alcohol and taking some drugs. Every weekend there is mayhem and sometimes murder and you can just about guarantee the abuse of alcohol is there somewhere. I sometimes watch the police shows on TV where a camera rides with police patrols. Nearly every case involves abuse of alcohol. I enjoy a beer, a sherry or glass of wine. I am chaplain to a brewery, but I can still say that I have never been drunk in my life. I confess that I like a drink from time to time just to help switch off. I do not know the answer to the abuse. Alcohol control I think, would not work. I think the answer lies in asking the question, "Why do we find it necessary to self-medicate so often and so badly?" Pure logic, or common sense should have us looking at the mayhem and saying to ourselves, "I really should not drink too much, it often causes trouble and is dangerous."  The facts are there! That is a true statement. But somehow we New Zealanders brush aside logic, evidence and common sense and go and get boozed, often with tragic results. I guess we think it will not happen to us, but it is a bit like Russian Roulette. Why do we need the medication? Aren't we happy? What is wrong? 
I find it incredibly sad and it churns me up. For me there are so many wasted lives and increased sadness and hurt.

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