Coming Home

Today is Monday June 22nd. Kia ora katoa.

This voice of reasoned calm continues, ha! Ha!

Education carries on: there was the killing of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. I watched 13th, a very interesting documentary on Netflix directed by Ava duVernay.  This was a very striking film, showing the increasing incarceration rates for people in general in the US, with a higher proportion of black people. This shows what has happened to “due legal process” for many poorer folk. I listened to more podcasts, learnt about Juneteenth, about Tulsa, and the massacre of black people there; about the emancipation of the slaves, with little if any state help, and it came late in Texas; then came the Jim Crow laws, the Ku Klux Klan, lynchings, segregation, followed by the Civil Rights Act. You would have thought that this brave political move would solve many problems, but you only have to watch the movie “Selma” to see that it didn’t. Sadly, racism has continued to be a fact of life in the US, that many white people have disregarded, arguing over the finer points of the law, or politics, both local and abroad. The much-vaunted “American Democracy” does not work at all well for many Americans, especially blacks or American Indians, as we saw to our horror in the recent Mid-Term elections and state primaries.

Now one sees education of conservatives, of many Americans. How sad that the death of George Floyd at the hands of police should be the wake-up call.  We have learnt a great deal about black people, about the difficulties of being a journalist while black; of the continuing state of grief. Is it any surprise that when things do go better, for example, winning a scholarship to a prestigious university (or college), this opportunity may be spurned. The recipient may not have the emotional strength and maturity to take advantage of it at this point in time.

It does seem that the death of George Floyd, followed by the death of Rayshard Brooks, to name the most recent examples (there are many), have affected white people in a way that the deadly invasion of the novel  coronavirus pandemic has not. There have been many, many protests, but in spite of rising Covid 19 infections, it does not seem to have struck those marching outside, usually masked, as badly as feared.

Meanwhile, the stride of the pandemic continues. WHO warns that a more virulent strain is around now. The US has recorded over 122,000 deaths, and the world looks on with horror, as the US federal government does not seem to have any strategy to mitigate this situation. Other countries such as Germany are seeing a resurgence, as has Beijing in China. Australia continues to have cases and has reimposed restrictions on the State of Victoria.

In New Zealand, there continue to be new cases of Covid 19 – two each day. Logically, this is not surprising. New Zealanders are being repatriated, more and more each day, and are coming from places like India and Pakistan, which do not normally fly here. On RNZ’s early morning show, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern assures Susie Fergusson that this it under control: that many more people are flying into New Zealand; that they are being quarantined under government control, and being tested routinely on day 3 and day  12 of their 14 day incubation period. We are reminded of the sob stories about funerals, dying relations, and humanitarian needs to fly back here; there were many voicing the need to open up the economy sooner, to fly foreign students in; where are those strident calls now? It is scary that two cases (a young couple from India) were asymptomatic. Previously, you couldn’t get a test here if you were asymptomatic. It is also scary that there is a theory that Covid 19 came to Beijing via salmon, i.e. via a food item. This raises all kinds of questions, and further makes the case for only buying local food products.

The short-term reactions of many are frustrating. You’re alive! For the most part, your family and friends and their families and friends are too! While the NZ economy is technically “in recession”, we remain in a stronger position in most ways than many other countries in the world. Be thankful!   This has been an emergency, and NZ has come through it with flying colours.  If some businesses have not survived, that’s sad, but, heh, stuff happens. Some things are out of our control.

Thankfully, the Australian company “Harvey Norman” continues to fund wraparound advertisements on the Dom Post and The Sunday Star Times, so we can’t immediately see the shrieking headlines of outrage. Get a grip, people!

Dr Ashley Bloomfield gave a press conference last Saturday. He is calming and reassuring, as ever. I want to believe him. There was a “Hero to Zero” headline in one paper. How ridiculous is that!  Dr Ashley, we still love and respect you, and are thankful to be here. It’s a very special place: why else would thousands of kiwis want to come home? Wherever they used to call “home”, home is here now.

More to come. Nga mihi nui.

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