Last night I spoke with Bryan Crump on Radio NZ National Nights.
George Takei, Star Trek's inimitable Mr Sulu, has been chastised by disability rights activists for posting a Facebook meme.
Said meme depicts, from behind, a woman standing from her wheelchair to reach a bottle of (presumably) wine, with the words, "There has been a miracle in the alcohol isle [sic]."
I get a lot of people trying to help me. The less they know me the less helpful their help is. So it's useful and interesting to make the distinction between 'helping' and 'being helpful'. They are definitely not synonymous and are, so often, completely antithetical.
The most unhelpful help I am offered is getting my wheelchair in and out of my car. It's quite a complex operation — getting it in involves neutralising the wheels, clipping the winch to the footplate, winching it up the 45° ramp and securing it on its platform in the car. And getting it out involves the reverse.
The phrase "digital native" has evolved pretty effortlessly into the common lexicon in the last five years. But is it accurate or a misnomer?
The most relevant definition of "native" in this context is "belonging to a person by birth or to a thing by nature; inherent" (Dictionary.com). So do iPads, Facebook, X-box or anything else in the digital/online/connected world, to which we may refer to young people as being native, belong to them by birth, by nature or inherently?
I'm splitting hairs here, I know. The thought only came to me half an hour ago in a discussion with someone who may well be described is "digitally native," so it's not like I've thought deeply about it. But it's interesting to consider an alternative frame: that kids and young people aren't native to technology — they're being colonised by it.
Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe is the latest in a long line of sports "stars" to come out as gay in an interview with celebrity interviewer Sir Michael Parkinson. It seems to be a sport in itself these days: to play professional sport and reveal that you're gay.
Or perhaps a better sport might be to place bets on who will be next. David Beckham? Too good to be true.
But the real question — or the bigger conversation we're not having — is about the "casual homophobia", as Kath and Kim actor and out lesbian comedian Magda Szubanski puts it, in sport that stops people like Thorpe coming out — or never having to "go in" in the first place.
There's been a lot of talk, both for and against, David Cunliffe's recent public confession that he is sorry to be a man. While I admire his intent, I think his choice of words let him down and weakened his message, for several reasons.
Firstly, personalising the message made it all about him and took the focus off women, for whom he was trying to advocate. He would have come across more genuinely had he apologised, on behalf of men, for the violence and abuse women endure from men.
Secondly, Cunliffe's apology for who he is — a man — indicates shame. Researcher Brené Brown is very clear, in her discourse on shame, that shame inhibits change. You simply cannot change your behaviour if you feel bad about who you are. The antidote for shame is the admission of vulnerability. Men, in particular, are nurtured to be invulnerable — which of course they aren't — and so many if not most men feel shame about their vulnerability.
As of tomorrow, 7 July, I'll be employed for the first time in twelve years. In early May I applied for the 0.6FTE role of Communications Officer at the NZ AIDS Foundation, was offered, to my surprise, an interview in early June and, to my greater surprise, the job in mid-June.
My surprise was two-fold. Firstly, while I've had heaps of experience in communications I've had no formal training. Secondly, I'm fairly long in the tooth to be taking up an entry-level position. So while I felt confident to fulfil the role, I didn't think I'd fit the role profile.
I obviously did though. And that leads to another aspect of my surprise, which is strongly linked to trust. At the beginning of the year I decided to let myself be guided towards where I was needed. I thought it would come in the form of a new client, but it manifested in a completely unexpected way. Not only a completely different content area, but a different role (employment not consultant) and, actually, a whole different lifestyle (I'll be working at the Foundation's offices).
On Wednesday Violence Free Waitakere (VFW) launched "'Jade Speaks Up', a new multimedia resource to help keep children safe from violence." The media release said, "The resource aims to help children put safety strategies in place to support themselves, should they feel afraid in their lives whether from bullying, natural disasters, adult threats or witnessing grown-ups fighting."
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Sign the KIDshine petition urging Rt Hon John Key to end our 'national shame’ of domestic violence and child abuse.
The Prime Minister John Key's surly response: "Envy tax." It's a response that epitomises this Government's entitled, ungenerous and irresponsible approach to the economy.
Key's response is typical of the neo-liberalism of conservative politics. It erodes community, rewards greed and treats money, not only like it's an infinite resource, but that it's an entitlement to have more money than others.
The arrest of 12 and 13 year old boys for aggravated robbery and murder respectively in West Auckland a couple of weeks ago highlights a growing malaise in society. The incident itself is a tragedy for the victim and his family, but what is alarming to me is that the two offending boys are victims too — of whatever circumstances led them to offend and now, potentially, of the justice system as well.
The bi-polarity of the justice system, which recognises only victim and offender, clearly fails children in these situations. The stories of those like twelve-year-old Bailey Kurariki (NZ 2001), James Bulger's ten-year-old killers (UK 1993) and eleven-year-old Mary Bell (UK 1968), all of whom were charged and sentenced, point toward a "punishment system" that in no way takes into consideration that these children were too young to be held solely responsible for their actions.
A system that believes kids can be guilty of violent crimes without asking, "How did they become capable of violent crimes?", is one that lacks empathy and compassion. Having empathy and compassion for the kids does not diminish feeling for the victims. It simply acknowledges the existence of complex situations that don't follow "victim/perpetrator" patterns.