Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A rant and a rave.

My wife having a cup of tea on top of Flagstaff.
Before with big dents which harmed the windscreen wiper.
After - I fixed the windscreen wipers and the dents I pushed out and patched as best I could. We painted it before Church this morning.
View of Dunedin from the top of flagstaff where we walked this sfternoon.
Personal responsibility..
A few weeks ago there was a young man in the paper in trouble with the police. He had purchased a fire engine and began weekend "Fire Engine Parties". People in streets were upset over the loud speakers, the siren and the drunken behaviour which caused damage to a car.  His off hand comment was something like "Worse things happen at sea!" and "If they don't want us to make a noise they should have decommissioned the siren and loudspeaker. It is their fault." No! Take responsibility, you acted stupidly and thoughtlessly. 
A local mother has been seeking legal revenge on police and prison staff. Her son, a man in his late thirties, was sent to prison but unknown to staff he had concealed drugs within his stomach. He was trying to illegally smuggle them into the prison. It all went wrong and he fell ill and died. Her beef is that he was not monitored closely enough and she claims they inflicted the death penalty on him.  Now maybe there was some slackness in their systems, but ... he was the one who swallowed the drugs, he took the risk, he was trying to deceive and probably did too good a job at it. Ultimately his death was HIS responsibility. As sad as his death was, you cannot blame it on others.
A young teenager went into a store with a mate to rob it. He was brandishing and threatening with a knife. He ended up killing the store keeper and was subsequently charged with murder. He got off with just a manslaughter conviction. The defence was "The shop keeper had grabbed a steel bar so the boy's knife attack was self defence. He had gone in to rob the store but didn't intend to kill anyone." I disagree with the manslaughter conviction. "Manslaughter" to me is if I drive carelessly and kill somebody. It is when somebody dies when I am doing something carelessly, while going about my own business, driving carelessly, building carelessly, working in a dangerous way that caused a death. But going into a store brandishing a knife is intentionally setting up a situation where death is a potential consequence. That act has intentionality about it. The storekeeper died because of the boys actions and intentions. Stop trying to blame the dead storekeeper. The boy was responsible for the death. Take responsibility! I am not looking for revenge. But growth, rehabilitation and true reintegration can only happen where there is that recognition of responsibility. We do not really do the boy any favours by allowing him to avoid responsibility. 
In the magical myth of Adam and Eve in the garden, when God challenged Adam he was quick to respond. He said, "The woman you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate." In other words  he was saying "It wasn't my fault! It was yours, God! Or hers!"  We still love to do that when we stuff up. We whine, "It wasn't my fault! It was their's .. his..hers ... anybody else but not mine." We need to learn the skill of 'fessing up, taking responsibility...
The Dunedin Night Shelter Trust that I am chairman of, needs to raise $240,000 in fourteen weeks! This is to top up funds needed to purchase the buildings we currently rent. There have been two stories in the local paper telling the public about our predicament. I do not know whether we will succeed, but I am blown away by the responses so far.  I'll list a few....

  • There is a group of students at the University planning a sleep out in the middle of town, in the coldest part of winter for 200 students! This is a fundraising and awareness raising effort for the Night Shelter.
  • A fellow chaplain in Central Otago sent a generous donation in last weekend.
  • An unknown man gave $500 via paypal. 
  • People are giving continuously on the students and the Night Shelter's "Give a Little" sites.
  • The leaders group of the local chaplains rang me the other day. They are donating a day's pay to our cause and are planning a special effort later in the year. They took me to lunch to talk it over.
  • An unknown couple who run a party entertainment venue emailed me offering us their facility to run a fundraising event for the cause.  
  • An ex-mayor is committing to help us raise the money. 
This week has been like that and I am guessing that in the next three months Dunedin people will have us riding a wave of generosity! One last incident that really moved me....
We attend the local little Presbyterian Church. The people are mostly elderly, but lovely open honest people. This morning there was quite a small congregation. The session clerk was giving the notices prior to the service starting. She opened it up to any others. One lady, a farmer's wife held up a newspaper cutting of the Night Shelter article and the photo within it. "We should do something for the Night Shelter." she said, "David is heavily involved there and he is a valuable member of our church. We should be doing something to help them meet their target." A brief discussion ensued. They have a mid winter meal coming up at which they raise funds. The session clerk suggested that the funds from the meal could go toward the Night Shelter. "Do you want to think about it?" the session clerk asked. "No" said the oldest member of the congregation, "Just do it! Let's do it!" and so it was decided. It was so warm, supportive and affirming. My fellow Church members are with me, supporting us. 

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