TRIGGER WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS CONTENT WHICH MAY BE DISTRESSING. This week someone I know killed themselves. I didn't know them well and I had no idea they were struggling with mental illness, so I am really quite shaken by it. Looking back, it explains some of their behaviour, but I didn't put one and two together. I hope I'll learn to recognise it in the future.
In a rather unusual text conversation, a friend and I were discussing suicide. I know, not a conversation you'd expect to have by text but hey, the upside is, I've got a record of it to paste into this post.
TROM "is a project that aims to showcase in detail the root cause of most of today’s problems and proposes realistic solutions to solve those problems. But it is also about challenging people’s values, explaining in simple language how the world works, and providing free and good quality educational materials/tools for everyone."
I support TROM on Patreon because I like what they have to say about the human condition and society. They use good science and logic and, to me, they make a lot of sense. They are aligned with the Zeitgeist Movement and Venus Project , whose philosophy and work I also respect.
I love this campaign. It speaks to the heart of an issue of fundamental importance: how do we create a strong, robust future society. Our children are that future. I submitted this to the #DearNewZealand website today.
I would solve child poverty by creating a culture where every kid has what they need, for free. Shelter, clothes, food, learning environments, safety and love. All these things should be provided for free by the Government.
Last week, three people I know within one or two degrees of separation, were affected by cancer — one was diagnosed, one came out of remission and one died. Call me sensitive, but I was a bit shell-shocked.
We've almost come to take cancer for granted — even accept it as fate. We see it as this mysterious medical problem that's suddenly become pandemic, at least in the western world. Meanwhile, friends tell me other life-threatening conditions like heart failure are decreasing.
So what's going on here? I'm not buying it.
If you watched Benefits Street last night, you may have been offended by the blatant depiction of crimes like shoplifting and drug selling. You may have felt disgusted or pity for the residents' dependence on welfare and substances, or simply for the squalor they lived in.
Or you may have just worried about the future of the kids growing up in James Turner Street.
According to Wikipedia, "the show was controversial, with the police, Channel 4 and the media regulator Ofcom receiving hundreds of complaints. There were Twitter death threats made against the residents of the street."
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.
Until this week I've enjoyed TV3's interactive debate show, The Vote. It's covered some interesting topics - drugs, racism and tax. They don't claim to be scientific, but it's an entertaining, if not reasonably vague, representation of public opinion.
This week though, I think they've gone too far. "This Month's Debate," shouts the website, "Our kids - The problem’s not poverty, it’s parenting. Do you agree?"
The moot is "poorly" put, as I tweeted, pun intended. It is confusing. "The problem’s not poverty, it’s parenting." Poverty is systemic; parenting is individual.