I saw only love
Apparently unknown substances and human excrement were being thrown at police at the Freedom convoy at Parliament. A Facebook friend highlighted this, and quoted Aesop: "A man is known by the company he keeps".
It reminded me of a more famous quote, of a man who kept company with deplorable types, even Roman imperial tax collectors – Jesus. These tax collectors were renowned for violence and extortion, and hated for being complicit in the authoritarian over-reach of their masters.
The religious leaders asked Jesus' disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?"
Jesus replied, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Aesop, if he ever existed, was a man of some wisdom. But superior to him was Jesus of Nazareth. A man truly known by the company he kept. A "friend of tax collectors and sinners".
His followers in 2022 are the same. That is why they will mix with the tax collectors of our age, including a political class and policing forces gone rogue. A true Christian will have grace for the oppressive tax collector – but will also oppose his tyranny and call him to repent of his sins.
But a true Christian will also stand with the marginalised and the misunderstood, especially those deprived of justice by a society that prefers fear over truth. They won't throw shit. But they won't take it either. I visited Camp Freedom, and only saw love.
Editor's note: In the interest of full disclosure, it was a Facebook post by myself, on my personal Facebook page, that Mr Chesswas refers to.
Protesting isn't a crime, but vandalism is
As someone who has themselves protested things in the past, I have no issue with people peacefully protesting. What I do object to however is a wanton disregard for rules, public safety and other people's property.
Over the last two weeks, on my morning walks, I have seen numerous stickers on the doors and windows of businesses, on park benches and public bins and even on the footpath itself.
The stickers are all clearly from the anti mandate people - I know this, as they say things like "no mandates" or "arrest the government for war crimes" or "scan this" with a rude hand gesture symbol.
If you want to protest, then please do so peacefully and without ruining other people's property. Surely you are clever enough to know the business owners aren't the ones implementing the various (might I add, life-saving) rules currently in place in our country.
Why I went to the protests
Why I protested at Parliament. Simply because, just as everyone there, I want the discrimination mandates to end.
Of course there were people there with additional and different views, just as everyone reading this has a wide range of positions on various matters.
Simply put, segregation mandates are wrong. It is wrong to exclude and marginalise people based on what medication they may refuse to take.
Our Prime Minister is on record stating that these mandates institute a second-class citizenry. This is pointedly vile.
The argument that those who refuse medications are somehow a risk to others and the health system is absurd. If that logic were to be furthered, we in future may forbid people of size fast food, or inform injured sportspeople that they 'knew the risks' and are therefore denied A&E. Perhaps beneficiaries may be excluded from many things as they don't pay tax.
If someone feels they don't need a medical treatment, I may disagree with them, but it is their right to refuse it. If we were on a sinking boat and you put on three life jackets, I wouldn't protest, but I would protest if you tied the man's hands who refused one in favour of swimming.
To forbid those who don't carry a government credit score card access to a haircut, restaurant, sport, school, or even their livelihoods is simply protestable.
If the needle were in the other arm, if the vaccinated found themselves systematically shunned, I would also protest for them. If the government told you to segregate and discriminate, would you jump off that bridge?
Ants in the Jar
Author Kurt Vonnegut's 1963 novel Cat's Cradle talked about red and black ants in a jar, the fact that they don't fight unless you shake the jar. Perhaps this is true for our society today? and dare I say it, the parliamentary protest?
In recent years, our communities within New Zealand have embraced Tikanga, which are values and behaviours namely, 'Being inclusive, encouraging diversity and expression of ideas and opinions', this is so that people feel safe, welcome and included.
Like most of New Zealand, I have been observing this protest from afar, witnessing many Kiwi families and groups making a plea to the Government. I have seen a plea to end rushed ill-proportioned laws, a plea to maintain inclusivity, a plea to let their children play the sport they love.
But what struck me was that it was the very worst of police and protester behaviour that was reported, contributing to further division in our communities, shaking our values and behaviours, shaking our Tikanga.
In contrast, my friends who visited over the last 23 days, reported remarkably peaceful and gracious behaviour by both police and protesters. They described the working-class, family orientated Kiwis in attendance, keenly aware of the dangers of a government overstepping its constitutional bounds. Before we turn on each other, I believe we must ask ourselves, who's shaking the jar!?
Arguments change to suit the purpose
I find it funny, that after around 20 years disagreeing fiercely with many strong conservative thinking people in my family and community, I now find them saying the same things I always have. I am talking about the sentence "my body, my choice".
I have long used that argument when people have angrily opposed a woman's right to choose when it comes to abortion. When I have argued it is her body, and her choice, I have been told no, it's not. She doesn't have the right to autonomy on her medical choices.
Strange isn't it, that many who have so confidently told me that in the past, are now fighting to defend that very concept - their bodies, their choice, and they demand the autonomy to decide what vaccine they do, or more to the point, don't, have.
At least there is evidence
Seeing some of the videos from the protest at Parliament, posted by people who live and work in Taranaki, I am amazed by the anger and name-calling I see from the so-called peaceful protesters.
As they film their hours upon hours of video, showing the camp, we hear them calling out, from behind their camera, abuse to the police, passers-by and even children.
"Why are you wearing a nappy" is one standard cry to people wearing a mask. "Shall we come and force you to have a medical experiment" is another I have heard frequently yelled at police and journalists there.
Yet they tell us they are peaceful. I suppose on the bright side, the evidence is all there for the future, and perhaps some will be charged with crimes based on the evidence they themselves have created.
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