So much to think about at Easter, aye Andrew Little?

In which I attempt to bring together several strands of thought I'm having at the moment, as we lead up to Easter, as we lead into economic struggle.

Last Sunday was Palm Sunday. Although I was brought up attending Mass every week (and I mean every week) as a child, I rarely attend now. Although I feel drawn to the ritual and symbolism, I'm not drawn to the corruption and conservatism inherent in churches as they become institutions. Most of them have been institutions for centuries now, and the layers of privilege, the base pursuit of power are within them as much as any other venerated institution.

But I took the children with me last Sunday. I thought we had a chance at turning up clean and on time at 9.30am, as we had the end of daylight saving giving us a little more temporal grace. We were late, the children hid their filth from me until inside church (you might suggest I didn't look and scrub hard enough before we left. Anything is possible.) I wanted Fionn in particular to see the procession and to see that the man who was welcomed into town one week, was denounced and murdered just the next week. I think the Easter story is compelling.

Hope and betrayal.

I don't actually think you need to 'believe' in order to find much to think about in terms of the human condition. So there we were, the children rolling round over and under the seat but actually managing to keep quiet. The grasshopper living way out of his usual habitat providing particular interest for my boy. Up the front, the story of betrayal, of Judas and his thirty pieces of silver, of Peter who disowned his friend three times before the cock crowed, the High Priest determined to have no contender to his throne, all these aspects coming through the readings.

I thought about how ordinary people have been betrayed by the financial big guns throughout the world. Sold the story of endless growth.

When it came time for the priest to share his thoughts, I heard no mention of the current global crisis. Not the environmental one, not the financial one, not Sri Lanka or Darfur or Chad. Not Afghanistan nor the homeless in California. He mentioned people saddened by children who did not come to Mass and talked about wanting to have everyone at Mass for the Easter Triduum, from Holy Thursday through to the vigil on Easter Saturday.

A little insular?

In traditional church circles, it is not for me to decide the message of Jesus. It is not for me to criticise. It is not for me to look up from the needs of my husband and children except to clean the church and do tightly prescribed good works.

But I'm not in traditional church circles. I left them a long time ago. I want to see how the message of hope, through and beyond betrayal, resonates here, today, tomorrow.

The day before we went to Mass, the four of us spent a long lunch with friends in Blackball, discussing this year's May Day celebrations, considering just what we should be fighting for in this post neo-liberal world. We talked about life skills, about the difficulty of fighting for environmental concerns in a climate where oil is currently cheap again. I talked about the impact of a monetised world, where one woman in the Press that day thought that asking a friend to babysit her children was begging.

Reciprocity, collectivism, independent and interdependent skills, these things matter.

So my heart sank when I read the news that Andrew Little, Leader of the EPMU union and now president of the NZ Labour Party, is advocating that migrant workers lose their jobs before New Zealanders.

Hang your head in shame, Andrew Little. To me, you are Judas Iscariot at the Last Supper. The man with the skills to work for a better world for all workers. I certainly heard some bold rhetoric from Andrew Little at Blackball last Easter, though I recall some discussion then about protecting New Zealand jobs, with too scarce, far too scarce, mention of solidarity with Chinese workers. Who made your daughter's school uniform? Your crockery and your son's sneakers?

In tough times, when we must - must must must - find the love and support each other, uphold the dignity of each human being, Andrew Little is paying the racism card.

Hang your head in shame, Andrew Little.


Sharonnz said…
Thanks for sharing these thoughts, Sandra. They'll stimulate some discussion in our house and with friends tonight as we share our Easter meal.
nova_j said…
yeah boo hiss. migrant workers are still *people* who still need to *eat*.. if we actually had an ounce of compassion we might actually give them preference for jobs, because NZers out of work can access help through benefits, non-citizens however are stuffed. and it's all very well to say that they can go home & be supported by their own countries, but a)not all countries have welfare systems, and b)they still have to pay for the plane ticket home first. personally i think the "but it's our tax payers dollars.." arguments are selfish. people are people regardless of their nationality or tax code.
Sharon will you come back and share some of your thoughts and discussion please? I'd love to hear...

Nova I agree.

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