Not a Swamp Creature

Prime Minister Ardern at Harvard wearing a korowai over her gown. We are so proud of you!

It’s now Friday May 27th, 2022. Kia ora!

Yesterday I didn’t write at all.  Yesterday morning I had singing. It was very cold, and I wrapped up warmly, in clothes I hoped would be too warm! I ended up putting a woollen scarf over my knees!  But the singing was wonderful, although there weren’t as many of us as usual. We are all working together so well.

Afterwards I went shopping, and then JD and I had a lovely lunch at a café. I was very tired after this.

On Friday my cleaning lady came. In preparation for this, I changed the sheets and towels.  

This week I learnt that another close friend has Covid 19. Her husband continues to test negative.  One of my friend’s (from singing) daughter has had Covid 19.  Many people I know have had it, as it creeps ever closer. This morning I learnt that Dr Ashley Bloomfield has Covid 19. He’s presently in Geneva after attending the World Health Assembly.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ardern is in the US for several reasons: she was to deliver the Harvard University commencement address (they gave her an honorary degree); she has secured a meeting with President Biden and Vice President Harris at the While House; and she also appeared with her old friend Stephen Colbert on The Late Show. We are so proud of her!

I finished reading an LRB; I read articles about the convoy protest in Ottawa, which sparked similar protests in Wellington and Canberra; and about Alexander Pope (a classical English poet: yes, I studied him, back in the day; I doubt that many do nowadays).

In the US, and around the world, we are all reeling from the dreadful school shooting in a small town in Texas called Uvalde (and so thankful we are not Americans). Yet again, I cannot escape the irony that the pro-life party is only pro unborn life. Once you’re born, you’re most likely in for a life of trauma and school lockdowns.  Oh, and it seems Trump did not express any antipathy  towards the suggestion to hang Mike Pence, his then Vice President; supreme hypocrisy by the leader of the Republican Party.

There was a further death related to the shootings reported today, when a 48 year old died of a heart attack; he was husband of one of the two teachers who was killed. They leave four teenagers, aged from 13 to 23 years old. That means 22 people have died – 19 children and two teachers, and the husband of one of the teachers.  Something Chris Hayes said reminded me of ancient societies where children were ritually sacrificed – for example, a Tophet; and yet God said I didn’t command this, I didn’t even think about it.  Children are now back at school after the Covid 19 pandemic, with relief; now this happens.

It’s really hard to find today’s Covid 19 report. It comes out regularly at 1 pm most days, and quickly disappears.

It’s now Saturday May 28th.

It was extremely cold this morning:  one forecast on my phone said it was 6 C, but felt like 3C.  I had left the heater on, but it still felt very cold indeed.

I listened to more podcasts about the Texas school shooting; I also listened to a podcast about conspiracy theories; in particular, the ones that blossomed after the Watergate crisis. After a long period of strict Covid 19 regulations, where many people had far too much time to think, conspiracy theories have flourished, and social media (which I avoid) has steadily grown in its ability to spread insults and lies. 

 More and more details are coming out about the shooting in Uvalde, and they are horrifying: the armed police didn’t enter the school because they were afraid of getting shot;  there was more than one classroom involved; the immediate crisis went on for about an hour; desperate parents tried to enter the school and were told they couldn’t; there was no resource officer in the school, although local police said there was; the gunman walked right in without any checks; in the words of one eye witness, he shot the window in the classroom door; and so on and so on.  All comments are aired on most stations, as shock permeates the US and much of the world. Laurence O’Donnell reported that the gun said “It’s time to die”, before shooting the children. One child survived by smearing herself with her dead friend’s blood, and pretending to be dead. She called 911, and wondered why the police didn’t come right away.

Whatever happened, and the stories of that terror don’t improve with age, surviving children, their parents, and those who lost loved ones and friends, will never forget this day. They will remember it for the rest of their lives, and some will probably be permanently traumatised by it. It’s hard to pull yourself together and make something good of your life after such an act of evil and terror, by an 18 year old. Why did he shoot his grandmother, who had cared for him? Did she say No to him, perhaps? 

The Guardian website has a story by political journalist Jonathan Freedland, pointing out that America was a land of such promise, seeking “freedom” from tyrannical monarchical rule, with their founding fathers devising a constitution that considered other states’ experiences in devising how a republic should work.  Sadly, many take an oath to the much-vaunted Constitution they adopted, and then have no hesitation in breaking that oath. Their praised freedoms look very hollow now, with this crazy 2nd Amendment which is taken to endorse the right of individual citizens to bear arms, without any thought of safety, usage, safe storage, age limits, or mental health, or the huge risks involved.  The American political system is now bound by a right-wing Supreme Court, and right-wing government in many states, that despite the majority wanting a kinder, safer, environment, insists on turning back the clock.  Maternal death rates are much higher than they should be, especially for coloured women; abortion is set to become illegal, and subject to prosecution, for all concerned; meanwhile these precious children are likely to be shot while they are at school. They, and their parents, will be scared of this happening, even if it doesn’t. Children should be safe at school, surely? Who’d live there, if they didn’t have to?  Meanwhile, the NRA is holding its annual conference in Houston. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are speaking there. People are protesting outside. Unspeakable. There’s a lot of talk about “sacrificing children”. God didn’t ask you to make this sacrifice. In this case, good guys with guns didn’t stop the bad guy with a gun.

In Psalm 137, it’s said “L,o children are an inheritance of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is His reward”. There are many other references to the gift of children, and many references to mothering – “How often would I have taken you under my wing?” There is the wonderful and terrible instance in Genesis where God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac; but when Abraham is on the point of obeying God, a ram is found instead. Hebrews says that Abraham was “counting that God was able to raise him from the dead, whence he received him in a figure”.  This is a terrible story of God testing Abraham’s faith; yet Isaac was restored to him. This story – the only such case in the Bible – to me prefigures the death of Christ, when God gave up his only Son, that we might live.  How incredibly cruel it is not to love and protect children from all harm, while teaching them the difference between right and wrong.

I saw a photo of Meghan Markle laying a wreath at the gates of the school.  Why, I wonder, is she not showing any compassion to her father, Thomas, who is in hospital after suffering a stroke, and is rumoured to be unable to speak? Just asking. I don’t see any evidence of his son-in-law, Prince Harry, sending him flowers or visiting him either. Archie and his sister will have many questions to ask as they grow up. Bring on the teenage years, I say!

In the UK, Sue Gray’s report has been published about the parties held at 10 Downing St while Covid 19 restrictions were in force. It seems the Prime Minister Boris Johnson doesn’t do embarrassment:  he apparently insisted that Winston Churchill drank rather a lot during the Second World War, and was still able to operate and make decisions.  Well, the British PM does do arrogance, in comparing himself to the late Churchill; love Winnie or hate him, he did have success in motivating the British people to undergo incredible hardships during that War and during the Blitz, which was a terrible time.  It’s reported that one of Priti Patel’s aides has resigned. Another Tory MP has called on Boris to quit. Just before Sue Gray’s report came out, there were reports of extreme drunkenness, with someone vomiting, someone sitting on someone else’s knee, and late night high jinks.  And these people were supposed to be running the country.

It’s also reported that 115 Rosgvardia guards (Putin’s private army) have been fired because of their refusal to fight in Ukraine. But the Donbas area is under heavy attack, with reports of two Ukrainian town surrounded by Russian troops.

Once again, though, our Prime Minister Ardern, has made us so proud – giving the commencement address at Harvard (and getting a standing ovation), and wearing a traditional Māori feather cloak – a korowai.  She wore  this when she attended a state dinner ar Buckingham Palace when she was pregnant with her daughter.

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: 6,369 new community cases, and 13 deaths. There are 362 people in hospital, and 6 in Intensive Care.

Of those 13 deaths reported today, five were from the Auckland, two were from Canterbury, one from South Canterbury, one from Nelson Marlborough, two from the Wellington region, one from Bay of Plenty, and one from Southern. Two people were in their 60s, five were in their 70s, three were in their 80s, and three were aged over 90.

The locations of the 6369 new community cases on Saturday are: Northland (166), Auckland (2068), Waikato (480), Bay of Plenty (160), Lakes (125), Hawke’s Bay (173), MidCentral (199), Whanganui (74), Taranaki (215), Tairāwhiti (32), Wairarapa (59), Capital & Coast (512), Hutt Valley (193), Nelson Marlborough (269), Canterbury (981), South Canterbury (135), Southern (452), West Coast (70), Unknown (6). That seems to me a bit of a reduction, although it is Saturday, and many people still have Covid 19. Hawkes Bay is down to 173 new cases, although Wellington is still high at 512.

On Friday, the Ministry reported 6862 new community cases of Covid-19 and 25 more deaths. I now feel that more people I know have had Covid 19 than have not. 

This afternoon we went to see the beautiful art exhibition at the Fine Arts Academy Gallery again (again for me, first time for JD). Thankfully, anything I would have bought has a red sold sticker. Some of the paintings I’d so admired at first viewing, didn’t look so great today. Others looked even more amazing.

That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

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