WHANGANUI High School Year 11 drama productions fielded some fine performances and thought-provoking work.

One piece in particular has stayed with me. It started off with a typical day in the classroom: a teacher asking questions, the kid who answered being mocked as a "teacher's pet" by the lads in the back.

It's such a common image, almost a caricature of school life. On reflection, that's horrible that we are willing to allow our precious golden people to be exposed to such soul-withering behaviour.

The scene changed to reflect on the infamous bus ride of Rosa Parks, where she sat and sparked a trail of human and civil rights marches that spread around the world ending in the rubber bullets of Bloody Sunday.


Then the final soliloquy, where a young man stood and reflected that even though the events that were portrayed happened in the 1960s they were still his everyday lived experience.

To that young man I want to say, "I see you, I hear you, I am sorry for my generation's failure to change."

I hope the next strike will be the children, to demand a fair, compassionate, ethical education system, not one designed to squash all spirit out of them. An education that teaches compassion, alternatives to violence and non-violent communication. An education that recognises that young people should not end up as indentured servants because of it, but one that supports them to thrive and truly become the people they are born to be. One that recognises the genius in all.

I will stand or sit beside you for that.


Questions remain

There will always be dividing fundamental differences between people of faith (in my case Biblical faith) and those who clearly oppose any notion that there is a creator God of the universe.

Russ Hay's humanism (Chronicle, August 28) will always fall short of explaining the big questions: Where did we come from, why are we here and what happens when we die?
I put this to Russ: If there is nothing more or no one more "beyond ourselves", then family, friends, teachers and the culture of the day and so on must decide all codes of morals and ethics.


Without the idea of a transcendent being, we then must accept that mankind originates from a complex mixture of chemical compounds without any intrinsic meaning, purpose or value. So when we die, the question of "What now?" must be avoided.

Another important aspect of humanism is that because mankind defines his own future, every moral or ethical code is relatively right or relatively wrong (not absolutely).


Straining under stress

Have we been thrown a tragic lifeline into mental illness?

The death of broadcaster and off-screen "nice guy" Greg Boyed caught the public's attention. We can never feel the abject misery of his family, but has Mike King got it right that there is no such thing as depression? Are we all in fact emotionally destabilised at the pressures life now brings? Will it get worse in this increasingly automated world where we are replaced by machines? Talking to those who are young and at the coal front of learning how to cope, it is clear one size does not fit all.

Family, school, university, work, health, peer pressure, fear, heartbreak are all emotions, and, as life has become more complex, the mobile phone has become our instant view of the world whether in Africa or the Arctic? We are swamped with images of both wealth and degradation. No longer anytime to process and adjust?

We are surrounded by expectations, societal directives from government and a never-ending cacophony of computer sourced indoctrinations to save the world. Who made them "experts"?

Surely we must save ourselves first. Have in fact drugs and the bottle become the "feel good" substitute again for the "bad times!"? Our soldiers used these to forget the horror they saw.

Family and religion have been increasingly debunked, so we have lost our behavioural compass. Who said both mum and dad needed to work ? We don't need a psychiatrist nor more medication to fix this, but a caring hand saying we are each equally important to the world in which we live? I despair!


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