You’re not from round here are you boy

I spend far too much time focusing my attention on current affairs, nothing wrong with that, yet my focus is affairs from other lands more often than not and this morning I feel its time I looked at my own back yard, more than I do or at least more than I have typed to date.

To many outsiders New Zealand may possibly look like a paradise, for we enjoy a life and lifestyle so many can only dream of. We like to call our corner of the world, godzone – we really are that, um, smug.

Yet anyone who spends more than 30 seconds looking at our fair little land will soon come across many signs that alls not right or as it could/should be. If we could implement policy as well as we promote our clean green image we’d be doing a lot better than we are…

I decided it was time to look closer to home after reading a article on domestic USA about Thanksgiving – something I only really know about here, cause of all the thanksgiving specials we eventually see on US Sit Coms etc. I’ve seen over the course of my TV life.

I’m representing the entire article here, as I really think it is worth reading and I can’t be arsed only providing a link – for the curious I grabbed it from Znet which has a link on the sidebar.

Thanksgiving and more Taking
by Norman Solomon

“When Thanksgiving arrives, the media coverage is mostly predictable. Feature stories tell of turkeys and food drives for the needy. We hear about why some people, famous and unknown, say they feel thankful. And, of course, holiday advertising campaigns launch via TV, radio and print outlets.

Like our own responses to Thanksgiving, the repeated media messages are apt to be contradictory. Answers to basic questions run the gamut: How much time and money should we spend on the holiday dinner compared to helping the less fortunate? Is this really the time to count our blessings -- or yield to ads that tell us how satisfied we'll be after buying the latest brand-new products and services?

Under the surface, some familiar media themes are at cross purposes this time of year. Holiday celebrations that speak to the need for compassion and spiritual connection are frequently marked by efforts and expenditures that point in opposite directions. Within the media echo chambers, a lot of the wallpaper is the color of money.

In its unadorned state, the idea of being thankful is on a collision course with "Thanksgiving" the commercialized media phenomenon. To explore the genuine realms of giving thanks is to pause and mull over good fortune -- dwelling on it while hopefully mustering at least a bit of humility and gratitude for life along the way. But the prevalent emphasis on goodies for dinner-table consumption and the big-hype kickoff of the holiday buying season are media cues with widespread effects.

As a practical matter, in the media world, late November brings a ritualized frenzy that makes cash registers ring (or whatever they do these digital days). Anyone who takes thanksgiving seriously as a potential activity for reflection is likely to sense a disconnect with profuse media content that seems to be unclear on the concept.

Whether seen in religious or humanist terms, the deeper approaches to "giving thanks" are distant from what has become the expected from mass media this time of year. Actual thanksgiving might bring the recognition that many people have at least all they really need -- and are damn lucky, too, given the circumstances of many human lives on this planet. In contrast, a wide array of media messaging tells us that we don't have what we need -- and if we can just spend money the right way, we'll get it.

Television commercials are constantly making the case that we should not -- must not -- be content with what we have. And the ads offer innumerable ways that spending money can remedy the situation. In that sense, much of media keeps stoking the hot coals of unthankfulness -- dismissing what we already have as woefully insufficient.

It's easy enough for media outlets to supply something for everyone at Thanksgiving time. We can choose to focus on replicas of some heartfelt sincerity along with facile sentimentality in news coverage. There are plenty of human-interest stories and recipes, plus the obligatory tales of gobblers that encounter or evade the guillotine. But overall, the commercialism pegged to Thanksgiving provides the most powerful undercurrents for the holiday.

Meanwhile, the barrage of publicized attention to Thanksgiving gives very short shrift to the original Thanksgiving. Newly arrived settlers in their new world, we've been told, gratefully received help from savvy Indians who generously shared their food and knowledge of how to prepare for the oncoming winter. And that oft-neglected story, in turn, is rarely examined as a parable for how Europeans who arrived in North America several centuries ago were glad to take from native people -- and then proceeded to plunder and kill with a zeal that became genocidal.

Today, some people have bountiful tables while others have very little. On the rhetorical surface, Thanksgiving marks a time of appreciation. But meanwhile, most of all, media outlets encourage us to buy -- and forget.”

As said we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here (yet…) and I am trying to present a more Kiwi specific perspective here, today. This article when applied to the Christmas session that is upon us, rings true as it does for my American friends who have just celebrated this holiday and are also marching towards a time of Santa.

I stumbled upon a documentary yesterday as I was procrastinating about what to do with my day, I can’t find any information about it, unfortunately and I do hope I stumble upon it again. It was called Born In 1984, a look at modern New Zealand and how our society is changing and has changed, from the viewpoint and focusing on those born in 84 (surprising that bit eh). I can’t find anything about it online and I’m damn grumpy as I’ve just been to that gawdaweful thing TVNZ calls a website and couldn’t find a thing… agh I feel dirty.

If anyone gets a chance it’s a damn fine documentary, gives some sobering insights into the pressures our younger generation face and the way money is such a huge part of their life and lifestyle, way more than in my day. There were enough sobering facts and commentary gleaned from researchers and experts which in itself is sobering stuff but what I enjoyed and appreciated the most was how the facts were presented alongside the less tangible comments by the youngsters interviewed, both sides of the coin so to speak. A mixed bunch of youths were interviewed and I must say what a startling bunch they were, articulate and aware of their world in a way I very much doubt I was at a similar age, with the right values and guidance I am sure we could be as a nation that which we pretend we are, things ain’t all chipper downunder but nothing is lost yet.

The after effects of the various economic reforms of the past twenty years have added to our poverty rates and pushed more of my country people into bloody grim circumstances, situations that whilst not new or that much different from most other nations, for me its always a shock to see how much our once world beating Social Welfare state and lifestyle has been beaten to pieces and continues to be eroded. For a nation our size we can so easily do better.

I’m sick of multi national corporations taking advantage of us and shipping the proceeds offshore – current example at least 500 million heading back to Vodaphone HQ – which is a huge figure in our little pond. Only compounded by the fact we pay some of the highest Telco charges in the world… I don’t begrudge profits to them that earn em, but in the Telco game there is virtually no competition and the two big guys are creaming off so much of our wealth to their parent companies… Here I do believe its time the government stepped in and protected us the people from the blatant profiteering going on, which coming back to the Documentary is a good example. All but one of the youngsters interviewed spent inordinate amounts of their own money on phones and call charges, most of them worked long hours each week to be able to afford the damn things when I believe they should be getting up to mischief and doing that education lark.

Enter the “in my day” statements from a man stuck in his rocking chair….

The other sobering things I gained from my documentary distraction was the increased poverty rates, the continued and increasing levels of domestic violence, the increase in youth suicides and all them other grim and depressing realities that we Kiwis often tend to overlook or simply ignore.

I do hope I stumble on this doco again, as I am sure it’ll be repeated in some anti social timeslot, which is often when I’m viewing as I missed the beginning and I so could do with a repeat.

We can as a nation do so much better; we have fewer barriers than most to having a standard of living that benefits us all. Let’s stop focusing on them with it all and spend more time thinking and doing for them that deserve so much more.

I believe as a nation we can afford to provide more help and assistance to them that need it, empowerment is a worthy and rewarding avenue that will benefit us all.

We need to find that balance between capitalism and socialism that benefits all and ignores none. Time to emulate our sportspeople we hold so dear and lift our game, collectively.

On a bright note to finish – for them that dig our national games (not me) how good must your weekend have been… imagine if you could apply that amazing high you must all be feeling right now to every aspect of our nation.

yep go the kiwis...

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