"A nation (community) is like a rope comprised of many strands. When the strands are bound together the rope is strong and useful. When they unravel the strands are weak and useless and the rope fails".
There is huge concern among all caring people at the unravelling of the strands and decline in standards in our increasingly dysfunctional community. The outward evidence is in the lack of respect shown to other people and their property, from the curse of tagging to the abuse of alcohol and other drugs, and the violence perpetrated on a daily basis.
The reasons are many and poverty, illiteracy, boredom, and dysfunctional family life all play their part however it is the innermost motivation of the person which determines their actions. Each person is responsible for their own actions irrespective of background or external circumstances. The majority of those we may classify as poor, illiterate, bored, and from dysfunctional family backgrounds actually participate in, and contribute to, society effectively. So what makes the difference??
The biggest single factor without a doubt is the family life and role models the children encounter as they grow up. The evidence is absolutely overwhelming that children brought up in a caring Mother and Father family committed to each other and their offspring for life, do far better on average than those from dysfunctional backgrounds. Rearing a child is a time consuming, rewarding, frustrating, exhilarating, scary occupation and two parents working together as mentors, role models, friends, guardians, guides, providers, in a word parents, are far better than one. (I say this with all due respect to the many single parents who, through no fault of their own, are required to, and do, a superb job of raising their children, often in trying circumstances).
"LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF" IS NOT SOME ‘GOOD IDEA'. IT IS ACTUALLY THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENT TO A FUNCTIONING, HEALTHY, HARMONIOUS SOCIETY. The words of Jesus highlight both respect for oneself and respect for others.
The breakdown in family life and societies values is the main contributor to our dysfunctional society. Regrettably many people are unwilling to face up to that and think about answers which are uncomfortable or not "politically correct".
I have challenged many media to get their researchers to examine the difference it would make to our society if
(a) every child was born into a caring mum and dad committed for life family
(b) there was no abuse of alcohol or any other drug
Crime rolled back, taxes reduced through less police, court time, prisons, and hospital care, far fewer shattered lives and families, thousands of homes, businesses, and vehicles not broken into, fear taken away from old and young, and a new sense of freedom and quality of life gained.
So far no media have taken up the challenge but I invite you to think about the difference it would make. Then decide whether this is not the type of society you would wish to live in and be aiming for. It is not "fantasy" or "pie in the sky". It is the setting of standards to which we wish to attain, and accepting the challenge of getting as close as possible!
AVONDALE-ROSKILL is a multicultural, multi religious, multi talented community capable of great things. I would love to work with all sections of the community including the youth groups, churches, schools, police, and community groups to establish the standards and see how close we can get to them.
RESPECT FOR OTHER PEOPLE irrespective of their culture, race, religion, wealth, looks, fame, or anything else is the key.
Sometimes it requires tough love
- Zero tolerance for tagging, street hoons, and petty crime. Offenders must be made to rectify their damage.
- Zero tolerance for truancy. We promoted in The New Zealand Party 20 years ago a system whereby students would have 2 warnings if they became truants. On the third and any subsequent offence one parent or guardian would be required by law to spend half a day in class with the child. As well as reducing truancy this was expected to have the highly beneficial effect of bringing the parents into closer contact with the school. This effect was however greatly reduced as truancy was reduced by over 90% in the United States where this system was tried!! What child, especially a teenager, wants to have their parent or guardian sitting in class with them? It is simple, effective, low cost and does not require an army of truancy officers, or ‘counsellors'.
Sometimes it requires a helping hand
- Provision of community facilities for after school care and nurturing, sports, and alcohol and drug free entertainment.
- Provision of facilities for minor offenders to have their literacy, numeracy, and social skills enhanced, as well as rectify any damage caused.
- Provision of facilities for integrating new immigrants into New Zealand society including understanding English language, New Zealand law, and New Zealand customs.
Many of these are provided already by many dedicated caring people. Possibly more co-ordination and backing from the City Council can improve their effectiveness. Citizens Advice Bureaus, Neighbourhood Watch, Community Constables, church youth groups, and other community groups all do a sterling job and should be encouraged and developed.
I would love to bring my international experience, with at least some understanding of other cultures, and my concern for the wellbeing of individuals, families, and the wider community, to be of use in the Avondale-Roskill area.