The Spirit of New Zealand – (Lisa Er 2005)
Kindness is the key to sustainability.
I suggest a movement of kindness is required to be at the forefront of everything we do. It is probably the only sustainable way forward and can be gradually implemented, particularly by careful education of our young people. This needs to be embraced and integrated by government, and embraced (and eventually required) by the people of New Zealand.
I see New Zealand as a place where the pioneering spirit is still strong. Our past is not far behind us and yet as a nation we have initiated extraordinary events that have impacted on the whole world. Votes for women, and becoming nuclear free particularly spring to mind.
I see New Zealand carrying on this innovative and pioneering spirit, and leading the world in what could become quite turbulent times politically. Terrorism, global warming, and petrol reserves running low will affect the world and the ripples will no doubt be felt here. We therefore need to develop strategies to cope with outside influences as well as our internal issues. The sort of movement that I visualise beginning here is a movement where kindness is at the forefront of everything we do. This is not an insipid wishy washy feeling but the basis for action. It is one of social responsibility, where everyone takes responsibility for every aspect of their own lives, and generates an atmosphere of kindness and caring that overflow into business, government and our attitude to the environment.
“Kindness doesn’t have to be insipid or random to be effective. Far from it. Deliberate kindness can be fierce, tenacious, unexpected, unconditional and sometimes positively revolutionary.” (Anita Roddick. Founder of The Body Shop.)
Diana Hubbard, wife of Auckland Mayor Dick Hubbard, is teaching this very thing. If we all act with integrity and ethically, then the country will prosper. This is possible to achieve because, after all, we would all like to see ourselves doing well, the country doing well, and ultimately, the world doing well. This movement is the only system that will work in my opinion.
Currently we live within a set of rules that we call laws. If we break the law then we are in trouble. People still break the law, however, which proves the system is not totally working. If we educate people with kindness as a core value, then people will self regulate more and government can govern without force.
An example of this, some business men in El Salvador, who were fed up with having their trucks hijacked, set up a gun for food programme and collected 3,000 weapons in two weeks. This true democracy will come from the heart of most people, but the change will have to begin with our young people, and will steadily be integrated into all aspects of society.
When a government is “doing well by its children, future generations would keep the government operating at its highest potential – shaping and foreseeing the future, forestalling present and future perils, ending poverty, building a restorative economy and environment, educating students for civic participation and encouraging the emergence of public philosophies”. (Ralph Nader. U.S. presidential candidate.)
I think the emergence of public philosophies is already happening, and it is possible to encourage some and discourage others. This sort of ‘social engineering’ seems to be controlled by the media at present. Select committees, independent of any government could prepare briefs on the way the country should be going, and then promote those philosophies, under the umbrella of ‘kindness’. We cannot get in to trouble if we work in that one framework.
In order to achieve a real improvement in our society, something drastic needs to be done about our young people. Currently, to be a teenage boy seems to mean being at the bottom of the social strata. Much money must be put into secondary schools to have comprehensive self-esteem building programmes, outdoor activities, and life education skills available for all children. Our teenagers should be treasured as much as our new born babies. They are our future and yet, as they try to spread their wings they are too often trying in inappropriate ways, so are cut down. In this society there are not enough adult roll models, particularly fathers, to guide and nurture them, our future leaders.
Too often we see our leaders cut down by the tall poppy syndrome. A leader can do a thousand excellent things, but if they make one slip up, society is down on them like a ton of bricks and we have a trial by media. How can our young people aspire to be leaders and visionaries when our current leaders are working under so much pressure? I am not saying these mistakes should not be addressed – but they should be addressed within the context of the good that has been achieved too. It’s a matter of balance. Strong leaders come with strong support and we will move forward by realising our responsibility in creating people who represent us.
The nuclear family does not seem to be surviving well and I think the trend will be for people to seek support and nurture in communities. Government can initiate community housing (perhaps built around a courtyard) for those who struggle on their own and are willing to give something of themselves in order to receive support. This is within the future paradigm shift that encourages personal responsibility. The building industry will then become innovative with different styles of housing. Building basic three-bedroom houses that accommodate one, or two, parent caregivers, with little support for their hugely important roll of bringing up children, will be a thing of the past. Retired and older people will be encouraged to be involved, or even live in these communities, providing stable roll models, and mediation, where necessary. This will place value on our senior citizens and their contribution to society, rather than dismissing them as we tend to do at present.
To improve the way our society operates there has to be more emphasis on our young people. One parent will receive a small wage for staying at home caring for pre-schoolers until they are five as they do in some Scandinavian countries.
Parents will be encouraged to do this, and support groups will be set up so that parents are not isolated during the day.
This country has a wealth of different nationalities, and it is essential that they all come together to make one nation. After all, everyone in the country is descended from immigrants at some time or another. Integrating our new citizens that have migrated here is vital. Integration with kindness.
The vision of a united country is what will underpin the strength of New Zealand’s future. If many nationalities live side by side in harmony, it can be a model for the rest of the world.
With this racial harmony must come religious tolerance. Different religions and forms of worship must be allowed and individuals must be able to practice their faith in peace. The idea that only one way is the right way, and that it must be imposed on others, is dated and from previous centuries.
Economic reforms are necessary to achieve a smaller gap between the rich and the poor. I see a centre left but increasingly socialist government growing from people who, as a nation, are becoming more socially aware. To be concerned about the environment used to be rather fringe, but now it has become mainstream. I see social concerns being more accepted in the future. This will not mean a government of handouts, but one that creates empowerment of the people. Those who are cherished and respected can easily be empowered. Instead of advertising, and other media extolling the virtues of something for nothing, or “you deserve” something for nothing – the overall culture will be one of kindness and self respect, when making a contribution. Just as smoking has become socially unacceptable in the last 20 years – abdicating responsibility socially will become socially unacceptable.
The health sector will make radical changes. No longer will they be providing the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff!. They will be proactive in providing preventative healthcare. People will be encouraged to see the connection between emotional health and physical health and make adjustments accordingly. The scientific community will be funded to do massive research on prevention rather than cure. This will put N.Z. first in the world in this intellectual property. Research in diet, and growing healthy food with maximum nutrients will also be world breaking. Government will ensure that what is discovered in the laboratory will then be put into practice. This will then make for excellent export opportunities, and N.Z.’s clean green image can really be true. Integration and co-operation between all sectors will be important. Ireland moved ahead quickly when government, business, and the unions decided to co-operate for the good of the country. The government can take the lead and inspire the nation to make these changes.
The power of the people, when interested and motivated, will be something that government will welcome, not fear.
Currently people condemn business for dirty practice without seeing that demanding high returns on investments pushes business into taking shortcuts in order to keep profits high. A major requirement of investors will be for companies to perform ethically. Investment in N.Z. will be strongly encouraged, rather than investing overseas.
My ideas stem from the way I see how life is. I visualise people gaining recognition of the “ripple effect”. The ripple effect is my way of describing how our thoughts and actions move out like a ripple, affecting everything around us. Everything in life is energy, and energy is movement, so even thoughts are movement which emit vibrations. This explains how we give off positive or negative vibrations. With a greater awareness of this, we understand the consequences of not only our actions, but also our thoughts.
With an intention of kindness behind everything we do, we will have a bright future indeed.
So in conclusion, in twenty years time we could have radically improved our nation by creating this movement of kindness within the country, that will empower us and fosters co-operation. In this safe encouraging society, pioneering new ways to be in this world, we will be able to work together to create a new New Zealand!
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