ALL Chilldren Born are our Treasures | Marama Davidson

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Opinion 04 March 2012 (Children’s Day)

Children are our treasures regardless of what home, family or circumstance they are born into. On this Childrens Day I express my thanks for my own children and every single child that the earth has blessed us with.

The planet village, the one that is supposed to collectively raise our children, is no longer a given. We have instead a staunch and ever rising concrete sterile building in its place. This structure has been successful in advocating for a notion of individual self-centred survival of the fittest. It is a notion which harbours contempt and hostility for anyone less than fit. This construction has been erected over the top of our gardens of collective compassion, as if those plantings are only weeds to be frowned upon.

As a mother of children ranging from eighteen to three years old I can understand and fully empathise with the impassioned cries from outraged parents. They want death and castration for the Turangi teenager who raped and harmed a five year old child. If it was my own daughter, I could not guarantee an absence of murderous hell-bent vengeance from my heart and soul.

A huge wrong has been done. It is a profound and deep sin that has created enormous imbalance within the harmony of the universe. The young man and his family must be held accountable for what has happened balance must be restored to that little girl, her family, the Turangi community and our entire planet.

To the little girl and her family; I wish for nothing but peace and healing to you all. I struggle to comprehend what you have all suffered. Aotearoa is grieving for you because we know this is not who we are. Today on Childrens Day I remember what happened to an innocent child and I am horrified.

The teenager who committed this wrong has been sentenced to ten years in prison. But I am not convinced that any prison sentence ALONE will properly restore this overwhelming disjunction. I am not sure that true accountability and reflection from this teenage boy and his wh?nau will happen purely as a result of jail time. In ten years time, he will still be a young man. Whether we agree or not he will be back in our communities again. I am asking us all, what sort of young man do we want him to be when he arrives back to us? Is it too much for me to hope that at the least, he will not be a monster? Is it too far to expect that with appropriate support, he might even become a contributing adult again instead of a burden to society?

I do not know the teenager or his whanau, but something somewhere went very wrong.. By all accounts, it appears that this kid did not receive an upbringing. We all know that many exceptional people have come through all sorts of adverse circumstances to become quite functional or even outstanding. If you are still reading this article at this point I am sure I have enough people ready to bite me by now, without me then trying to make excuses for the actions of this teenager or his whanau. There are no excuses. BUT how do we stop this from happening again?! If in the ideal call for ‘justice’ we have quartered and hung this teenager in the town square, with his irresponsible wh?nau looking on then what? Will that ultimate act of revenge ensure that other families and children are all strong and confident and resourced in our communities? Will that act of justice provide the incentive for all parents to suddenly become role-models of society by tomorrow?

As I hear people now saying simple, stop the weak from breeding………..oh wait. No. My meter for feeling disgusted has just gone berserk and is preventing me from even speaking to such lunacy. Sorry if I got your hopes up for a second there.

Here in South Auckland where I live, people like the Manurewa Marae nannies inspire me. They ignore the unforgiving concrete edifice that is devoid of kindness and they stretch their uplifting hands to those who are struggling. The nannies form authentic relationships with those who have already lost Darwins race. Their work is challenging, full of complex problems and dynamics and is more often than not akin to pushing crap uphill. They are of course underpaid, under-resourced and under-valued by most.

I place huge value in the nannies small but important gains. Recently they spoke to me about a young mum coming out of the darkness. The nannies spoke about the many months they had spent just supporting her to feel like she was worth more than the life she is currently living. These are immeasurable gains? Can we measure how many babies we do not kill?

However, the nannies are up against that building as well. Yes many communities, marae, and wh?nau have planted great gardens of collective compassion and nurturing. This has been where some incredible work has happened, despite the cold concrete creation that is concerned only with the care of the self. I am also aware that many families have done quite nicely for themselves and their children just by tending to their own backyards only. If you do nothing but be good parents, yes you are my heroes. But for us all to be heroes so all our children thrive, there is work to be done.

At the beginning of this article I called for accountability from the teenager and his whanau. I stand resolute in that. Only true accountability will give even that young guy and his wh?nau any hope of a future.

In the meantime, how do we make certain that no young person will ever again take such tragic actions? I am choosing to fight for sustainable wellbeing for all of our children and whanau. It is well past time to explode this current arrangement of indifference, hostility and outright hate towards our families who are anything less than heroic right now. Rather than exploiting any opportunity to espouse bigotry, role-model what genuine concern looks like. I realise that the latter approach takes more intelligence, work and balls but we can all share the load.

Currently our state is: breaking our country into bits and selling it to more cold colossal corporations, whipping the poor without whipping poverty, harassing our natural resources instead of harassing outdated fossil fuel energy and generally instilling economic, social and political policies that further destroy healthy but basic human values in favour of corporate ones. In Manurewa we have more prison buildings for our children to look up to than we do tertiary education institutions. We owe it to our children to reject such fee market neo-liberal thinking because it is destroying our planet village.

At the time I was born my parents were young, poor, unmarried, clueless and M?ori. By some lunatic analysis, they should not have been allowed to breed at all. Thankfully I entered this world and can now take my place to write articles of profound importance, espouse words of stunning grandeur, conjure notions of revolutionary thinking and inspire mass world change.

Failing that, I will just try and be a good Mama who role-models care towards others. Thanks to Mum, Dad and my planet village for ensuring that we remain fiercely proud of being M?ori. Thank you also for teaching us to stand up for, rather than stand on, others.

Nga mihiMarama Davidson
(Te Rarawa, Ngapuhi, Ngati Porou)

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