Such are the ripples of lifelong hurt, it is unwise to start a conversation about suicide with people you don’t know very well. Nevertheless, the subject is bursting to be talked about.
It’s over… sort of. Yet something seems missing, something so boring it wouldn’t make it to the debates about the pressing issues of homeless, inequality and the other depressing social indicators.
It’s not so much a policy as a theory which has guided this and other Government’s policy since the Reagan-Thatcher years. A time so brainless it ran on the empty slogan of ‘there is no alternative’.
I could write a whole catalogue of clichés to describe the beauty of Omapere and the impact it has had on my life. But, let’s just start with a couple – it’s a beautiful jewel on the Hokianga Harbour, which has totally taken my heart.
“Oma-where, Oma-what. Where the hell is this Omapere?” I remember saying.
I can’t remember when I wrote the following paragraph about using containers in prisons to mop up overcrowding:
“My response to the use of containers to imprison convicted criminals was to ask myself the following questions: Are the containers secure? Will they mop up overcrowding? By prison standards of accommodation, are these containers humane? The answer is yes in all cases.”
“If I am in the privileged position of being Prime Minister, my expectation is that politics will be based around ideas and policy” – Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report.
What’s this? Ideas defrosted from the ice of ideology? Policy untrammelled by The Market, that blinker on political imaginings.
So here’s an idea:
I remember when the government helped young people to move up in the world. It was a time when all mothers got the Family Benefit, which could be turned into a deposit (capitalised) on a house with an affordable State Advances mortgage. I also remember when inexpensive night school classes for school certificate and university entrance were common. And also affordable university evening extension courses leading to professional qualifications. Labour and National governments abandoned the leg-up philosophy as well as collective responsibility. Union protection was replaced with individual contracts and, conveniently, a low wage economy.
I never imagined I’d sit with my mother as she died. Or view her a few days later.
But then I never imagined we would be right there in our kitchen with our vet, Brendan, as he gave Bill his last injection. The ‘we’, included Suzy, Bill’s canine litter-mate of thirteen years.
A friend who had been away from home for several weeks was complaining about how much the weeds had grown in his absence. And worse, before he could attend to this, he had to take another unscheduled trip, which left no competition between him and the rambling mini forest (okay – a wee exaggeration!) on his return.
With my background in psychology, this led me to reflect on our minds and the weeds we let grow, sometimes unwittingly, and the way those plants can take over our thinking.