The aftermath

I can’t resist the urge. Politics. Elections. Close races. It draws me in every time. And yet somehow, amidst all the nice graphics and stimulating commentary, I come away with a distinct sense of disappointment in the aftermath.

It’s not the result necessarily, nor the lack of new polls or the lull in political moves from those seeking a given result that upsets me. It’s simply the way everyone treats one another.

People slag off at those who have supported their opposition. They treat those who voted for another candidate as being the benign replicas of everything those candidates have ever said and done. They homogenise others according to who they supported and attach hurtful labels to them (I know, I’ve done it myself before). They choose to put down those who disagree with them, without for a second giving thought to why those people voted the way they did.

Like anyone in my position (white, middle-class, living outside America, employed, tertiary educated), I looked with frank disgust on the words and actions of a man who I couldn’t possibly see becoming President. I refused to endorse him, despite my previous support for some Republican Presidential campaigns.

For many, Trump’s actions were enough to make them come out in open support of his key opponent, Hillary Clinton. For me, the stretch to support Hillary openly would have been one driven out of a spirit of fear rather than a conviction in what she stood for. I chose to sit on the fence.

Many chose differently, and with good reason, understanding that from their worldviews and their sense of justice, that they could openly stand with Hillary in opposition to Trump. I don’t blame them. In fact, in many ways I supported their stance, but lacked a desire to compromise certain principles over an election I cannot vote in.

That word compromise was the name of the game with this election. We all did it to some extent. Some stood with Hillary against Trump on the basis of his blatant misogyny and racism. Many held contrary views to her on issues of big business, trade deals (TPPA anyone?) and abortion, but decided that it was worth overlooking these positions to hold Trump out. Not all Clinton supporters, but I’d bet on a significant chunk.

Here is my gripe. When the results came out last night, people condemned Trump supporters. They condemned the American electorate for being ‘stupid’, ‘moronic’ and ‘racist’. They attacked the supporters rather than the views of the candidate.

This saddens me. Why? Because it reflects our own lack of empathy, our own lack of understanding or care for how the lives of others might be affected by the economic and social systems within which we operate. The very same lack of tolerance and understanding we despise in the actions and words of Donald J. Trump. We simply don’t care about the fact that he won significant support from those most likely to be marginalised by the economic system we benefit from in our upper-middle class situations overseas, particularly compared to Romney. We don’t give a toss about unemployment in the mid-west states. We don’t take the time to understand the situations around legal and illegal immigrants in America.

Yes, many of his supporters may have compromised their beliefs around gender equality or overlooked his slurs towards LGBTI and racial groups. They did so in the same way many people overlooked Hillary’s views on abortion and trade, because they saw opportunities for those in their position. They aren’t all racists or idiots. Some may have lacked the opportunities for the educational opportunities you have enjoyed, but some are simply facing the challenges of unemployment, low wages, struggling businesses. They aren’t bad people trying to bring the world down. Some are simply dispirited with the status quo which they saw Hillary as representing and saw their daily challenges as more important than the other valid concerns over Trump’s attitudes. Can you blame them?

The election wasn’t simple, and there were many factors at play. But as the results are digested I implore you to consider your privilege, to consider what it would mean for you to be in the position of someone earning under $30,000 a year in America. To be facing the TPPA and its impact on domestic businesses. To be unemployed in a country where the welfare system is different to your own. I’m not suggesting I understand these things or even know what they all mean for specific populations. I’m not even suggesting that these things justify voting for someone like Trump. But please be aware that these types of issues to exist for people and they have very real impacts on their daily lives.

I ask that only once you have considered this, you then write your status about the election or write that comment on a blog post. Love your neighbours, whether they be Trump or Clinton supporters. Treat them as people made in God’s image, worthy of love, however much you detest the views of their candidate. All of us compromised on something, usually influenced by the level of privilege we enjoy in society in an unconscious manner. Don’t spend your words hating on those who compromised differently in their votes, instead, expend your efforts on praying for the leader who was democratically elected last night. Pray for the nation he leads and the world we live in, acknowledging that God is sovereign and in control. Keep calling out and standing up against every kind of injustice that is espoused. But please, and I reiterate please, remember we are all humans, broken and sinful, all needing the grace that comes through Jesus Christ and His resurrection and through the continued work of the Holy Spirit.

Micah 6:8

And what does the Lord require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy

And to walk humbly with your God.

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ANZAC Day

Anzac Day 2015 was special for New Zealand. That fact is undeniable. Huge numbers attended commemorations around the country, in remembrance of the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli, with Auckland and Wellington both experiencing turnouts of over 25,000 at their main dawn services. However it is not the numbers themselves which delight history loving folk like me, but rather, the increased awareness of our history as a nation which this represents, and the growing respect for those who have, and those who continue to serve, our country.

This awareness brings with it debate though, a questioning of how we as a nation, can be seen to ‘celebrate’ something which had such dubious motivations and was associated with such acts of horror as are undoubtedly associated with those conflicts. I noted on my newsfeed this morning, an article which conveyed some aspects of this debate quite succinctly from an Australian perspective. The author, Ele Jenkins, questions what we choose to remember about war on this date every year, asking why it is that things such the Armenian genocide, the Frontier Wars and the actions of Britain in convincing Australia to participate in World War One, are often overlooked at this time. Her argument is clear, what it is we hope to remember when we state ‘lest we forget’ each year, is a somewhat shameful blot on the history of the ANZAC tradition. This is, in my view, symptomatic of the debate which we get drawn into each year, something which ends up questioning not what the purpose is in the time of remembrance we observe, but rather what it is that we are ‘glorifying’ in that remembrance, particularly in contrast to those things we do not focus on.

Glorifying and remembrance are two different things. Glorify, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is defined as “to make (something) seem much better or more important than it really is”. Do we really seek to glorify Gallipoli as more important or better that the slaughter of the Armenian people? Do we really attempt to overlook the issues that have been created in our own country as a result of colonial land grabs? Do we imply an agreement with the motivations of the wars that enveloped these battles? I don’t think so. I think ANZAC Day is about remembrance, not the remembrance of acts that occurred during the war specifically but the remembrance of the spirit and perspective of those men who put their lives on the line for what they understood to be the freedom and safety of their countries and in some cases, empire. If we believe that ANZAC Day is about something other than simply commemorating war, and has a focus on remembering the sacrifice and bravery of those who fought, then we must also look at the perspective and context within which those men lined up to enlist. Those men we unlikely to know of the horrors occurring in Turkey, they were unlikely to know of the ‘behind the scenes’ manipulation of the colonial governments by the British Empire, and their understanding of the earlier colonial history of their country would have been heavily tainted by their education at the hands of those who had been a part of that period in our country’s history. In that age of slow communication, colonial education and censorship of media, these men had little access to the knowledge we have, in our instantaneous, information-filled, post-colonial Western world today. If it is indeed them that we remember on the 25th April each year, then how can these issues be allowed to override the memory of the spirit and bravery of those fellow humans, whether ANZACs, Turks, Germans, British or any of the other nationalities that fought on either side of that dreadful mark on the history of human civilisation?

We stop to remember those who fought, and those who died in that conflict. The humans, not the war. Yes, we need to be more aware of the truth surrounding the actions of both sides during the war, and peel away the stereotypes of the ‘goodies’ and the ‘baddies’, the motivations, the manipulations and the moral failures associated with those terrible events, but if we are to stop for a moment to remember, let us not try to justify or break down the circumstances, but let us take what we do know and remember the example that was set in love. Those lives that were laid down for their countrymen and comrades on either side are to be remembered, for what they were in the eyes of those who fought in those muddy trenches, a duty to God, King and Country. We look through the lens of their context on this day, not the context of our current understanding. We do not seek to glorify or hide from the war and the horrific actions it encompassed, nor the shame of our own colonial histories but we seek to acknowledge those who fought knowing little of these things we know now and following commands they had no say in, but who still willingly fought and sacrificed their lives that others might live.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” – John 15:13

Relaunch

It is some two or three years since I last used this site, but given that it is inter-semester break, I thought that it might provide a useful outlet for brain stimulation and the sharing of thoughts in a slightly more controlled environment than Facebook. Material is likely to center around politics and sport unsurprisingly. Comments are welcome, but please maintain a decent level of respect and courtesy in your discourse, particularly around political discussion.

4 Days to go! – Various Musings

4 days until we jump on a plane and head off! Starting to become a bit more real as school winds down and we prepare our bags and foreign currency etc! 

Really looking forward to catching up with some of the friends we made when we worked in the foster home two years ago. 

It’s going to be a challenge to help out as much as I can while keeping my studies up for exams in week three of next term, but it is a challenge that I am looking forward to. It will be cool to meet some of the new kids and hopefully make a difference in their lives. One of the great things up in Asia is the wonderful food so I will no doubt return to NZ a few kilograms heavier!

Anyhow the real countdown has now begun! 

Rugby World Cup Politics

Let’s face it, regardless of whether or not anyone can be bothered listening to them, politicians are always trying to gain leverage even when we are all absorbed in the fascinating Rugby World Cup that our nation is privileged to be hosting.

It has been interesting how Labour have been quick to jump into the ring for their man Len Brown when the government has taken over the waterfront in order to make the ‘party central’ idea work. It is fair enough that Murray McCully and John Key have made this decision. Len Brown and his subordinates at the Auckland Transport CCO  had years to plan and organise the party that they ‘invited the world’ to last Friday. If they didn’t have the contingency plans to cope with the numbers that responded to their invitation it is their responsibility to take the criticism on the chin and get on with the job to make sure it doesn’t happen again. The transport system of Auckland is their responsibility and with the chaos that was caused by a lack of planning and unimpressive system implementation by the council they need to man up. Labour is digging itself into even more of a hole just a few weeks out from the election. Defending the people who were obviously unable to cope with the huge crowds last Friday and criticizing the Government for taking over the waterfront in order to help bring the situation under control is just plain irresponsible. We need to work together in order to help showcase our nation to the world in a positive light for the good of our people and economy. Phil Goff has got to the point of desperation with polls showing him light-years behind John Key who had managed some very smart politics in putting the election straight after the RWC.

My predictions for this election at this stage will be John Key to lead National straight into government again with a very good chance of being able to govern alone and Labour to be severely punished by the electorate for their lack of vision, inspiration and style. The swing voters will largely vote for National but the traditional lefties will vote Greens instead of Labour with the people who traditionally vote Green but who are more radical shifting to the far left and voting Mana. I can see John Key working with other parties even if he doesn’t have to but the question is just who will those parties be??? Well if Labour and Mana aren’t successful enough in the Maori Seats then the Maori Party may hold on to its current electorate seats and be able to work with National if the Maori electorate likes the idea of them working with a centre-right government again. Act has a very delicate chance of making it back. Their hopes rest almost solely on John Banks personal popularity in the Epsom area.

It will be interesting however it turns out I am sure!!!

All Blacks

Realized the other day that I hadn’t posted here for a while so thought I might list my preferred All Blacks Squad ahead of the official announcement tomorrow so here goes. This is based upon the AB’s taking 30 players with probably a 17-13 forwards-backs split.

Backs

Mils Muliaina
Israel Dagg
Sitiveni Sivivatu
Conrad Smith
Ma’a Nonu
Piri Weepu
Daniel Carter
Jimmy Cowan
Richard Kahui
Hosea Gear
Aaron Cruden
Cory Jane
Zac Guildford

 Forwards

Wyatt Crockett
Kevin Mealamu
Owen Franks
Andrew Hore
Ben Franks
Brad Thorn
Sam Whitelock
Jerome Kaino
Kieran Reid
Adam Thomson
Richie McCaw
Tony Woodcock
Anthony Boric
John Afoa
Corey Flynn
Victor Vito
Liam Messam

Comment: In the backs the obvious omission is SBW but really is it that surprising? When has he ever played a match of rugby at anywhere near the standard of Conrad Smith or Ma’a Nonu? Why is he even there now? Because he is a highly paid ex-league player who has to be picked because of the price the NZRU paid for him. He has shown no long term commitment to rugby and has proven this by stating that he will not announce his future until after the Tri Nations, in other words, “when the RWC2o11 squad is announced”. For these reasons I believe he should not be included but please feel free to state your views in the comments section below if you disagree. I do rate Piri Weepu as a viable back up to Dan Carter but he also provides a back up if Aaron Cruden is selected and is unable to perform to standard. Colin Slade cannot perform to standard against quality opposition it appears and therefore should not be selected. Cruden is likewise not proven but is in form and can kick goals so I have named him in my squad. The other selections are relatively self-explanatory.
Forwards: I think that the top two locks despite my personal liking for Ali Williams, are most definitely Sam Whitelock and Brad Thorn. Adam Thomson should be in the starting line up because of his high work rate and excellent ball carrying ability.  Tony Woodcock is there courtesy of the extra forward place in the squad. If he can get fit again he could be potent but at the moment the Franks brothers are the form props. Andrew Hore and Kevin Mealamu are both exceptional hookers and are virtually interchangeable at the moment in my opinion with Corey Flynn as back up. John Afoa is unlikely to have a major involvement but is there based on experience. Jerome Kaino is a class performer and will play a key part though his place in the line up is uncertain at the moment with Adam Thompson also a class act.

Tomorrow will tell who will carry the hopes of our nation in one months time on the quest for the ultimate challenge that our national sport has to offer! Debate on the squad from readers would be welcome!!!