Sunday, 1 March 2015

Get a job and a haircut

I'm having fun with job interviews lately. I have this sense of power, focus and happiness which very little seems to diminish. So, I go for a job which is 'mentoring' young rangatahi (Maori youth). It is an excellent conversation- the two interviewing guys (working in HR which I'm guessing stands for Human Resources) in true and wonderful style tell me of themselves, where they are from, their family, tribal links etc and I reciprocate. They make me feel very welcome as  the Polynesian cultures do so well.
The job, ostensibly, is to hang around with young maori at a school and help get them through the NCEA hoops Level 1 2 and 3. I hadnt realised it was so tightly reined in, the application form stating that, among other options, school was to be considered. So I thought that it may be looking at the world and its myriad facets of 'education' and fitting the person in there or creating something with them.And I wasn't going to encourage them readily to go into the lion's mouth of Hunger Games High School. Quite excited was I at the prospect.  No, it turns out its very prescribed. Getting people to fit the system.
Over the weekend I had time to think, and I realised I didn't want the job- not working in a system which is failing not only Maori; a system which has not responded to the new climate of today. Anyway I was upfront about my reasons why I wouldn't be interested, and suggested I would be available for something which truly may have an impact.No thanks, came the reply; we are focussing on NCEA. Its disappointing in one sense, but I also felt jubilant. It's change in the making. Saying what we value and how we would like things to be. I contrast this to the me of yore-struggling to even identify what  I wanted and full of suppressed needs and desires.
The downside? 2 jobs I have rejected and the scraping by but excited by the prospects which lay before me.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Prize giving at Awatapu College, December 2014

It wasn't just the trumpet fanfare and the odd Oxford Don getup from the staff; it wasn't just the pomposity of the way they walked somberly onto the stage, it was our feelings of disconnection at going to an event celebrating our daughter with a large group of people(including the teachers) we did not know.My local people call this 'normal'. It felt abnormal. And weird because we were celebrating our daughter's honours at this prize giving-which conspired to make it a mixture of happiness, sadness, loneliness, frustration and confusion,
The upside is that it was like watching vaudeville. Every minute or so I could perceive the seat shaking-either me or Alice suppressing guffaws. A few tidbits for voyeurisms sake.
The 'head boy' gives the Wikipedia head boy's speech. His grandest moments were 3 years in the first fifteen and a camp somewhere. Nothing mentioned of the core purpose of schools-educational achievement.Switch to my memories of the Waiopehu College principal Barry Petherick saying, at the end of year prize giving, the yearly camp-(which as I have mentioned before, sorted out the privileged from the not) was likely to be the biggest event and memory of your school experience! I'm sure the head boy's a nice guy- but more than likely a puppet and a product of the system. Sadness as I know he will more than likely have a family and succumb and subject them to this same system.
Then the awards: Now I'm not cynical about showing appreciation, being acknowledged for your effort, talent and so on but.............Excellence in rugby? Merit in rugby? I spose, why not? Everyone wins a prize at this prize giving. Here was I thinking that it was NCEA and these students got Merit in rugby! No, it was the school's prize-giving, I found out later.They had just borrowed the Eduspeak vernacular.
And the singing of the National Anthem, crap lyrics and all! Why are schools singing the National Anthem? Are we kind of grouping ourselves here, identifying with 'National Pride' and equating doing well at school to being a good patriot? And if you don't do well, or you abhor the fervour of flag waving? What then? You aren't a good citizen, dummy! As always, I sat in my seat; refusing to kowtow to pressure or shame. I'll not call anyone sir (except by choice) and I'll not join any Nationalistic or Religious sentiment, lest I wind up thinking I'm right and good and you're wrong and bad.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

It's in everyones interest to make a fairer world

If we build (rebuild) a more fair economic model or models and realise, as a part of it, that greed is endemic to humanity-in fact it's not morally wrong; we are in some way hard-wired for collecting up way more than we need. Its part of our survival instinct and deeply tied to our need for security. We also have a deep part of us which enjoys and recognises mutual satisfaction -you are happy and I am happy and you are happy that I am happy and I am happy when you are! Substitute 'happy' for having enough, satisfaction, belonging etc.
Its just that, if we don't do this, everyone will suffer. The people who don't have enough will suffer. They will get A:hungry and then B:angry and then the powers of the governing bodies which seek to retain power wealth and resources will get nasty with them (as they perceive a threat to their position). The people with all the goodies will also suffer-as the masses revolt against the unfairness, starvation, lack of resources etc.
Institutions such as financial, education, legal system mostly support the wealthy in that they inherently protect property and resources which are 'owned'-when often they are gained by privilege, class structure, theft or just by being sanctioned by a system that allows rampant wealth gathering and retention.
We need to reinstate a system which limits greed and encourages mutual prosperity (I include all livings things as partners in this) This is not pie in the sky. As I've always said, we have created  these structures so we can re-create them.
My family and some others have begun a mutual savings group-one where the collective savings of the group are put to the benefit of the group. The group collectively decides the priority of spending within the group according to immediate need. The idea is to keep the money as a fluid means of exchange-yes, what money was made for! We know where the money goes, we don't have interest gained or indebted and we have the living trust of members. There are many such collectives already operating in this country. They have the power to make banks redundant, and therefore free us from crippling interest driven debt, insane 'growth' practices, funding of wars to name a few benefits.
There is so much scope to act in another direction from the matrix, which you think you cant get out of.
When we tap into our creative powers we can have a great time, share stuff out a bit more evenly, and get to know and work with others in a meaningful way. That way we may have a village after all.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Boys become men-a Rite of Passage

I just got back from a 'Rite of Passage' event where young men are initiated into the circle of men. No 21st yardglass, no meaningless key to the door that's long been opened, no first beer, no car accident and funeral-no 'self initiation' that is commonplace in this country and the 'civilised world' generally. No, we took boys gently through a loving, supported, but difficult experience that acknowledges their transition from the world of the boy to the world of men.
We acknowledge birth, birthdays that are important, marriage and death. We mark these transitions in rituals built up by our group-our culture.But we have forgotten how to bring girls and boys into the world of women and men. We must therefore journey it alone in confusion and 'hunger games' -like sacrifice to the gods of the marketplace. They show the way. For boys that way is the way of the eternal boy-exterior displays of power over others, bravery and machismo that are rarely felt within as true sources of power, Witness these on the internet and the news media. Uninitiated men look to uninitiated older men, who themselves are still boys, for guidance, reassurance and encouragement acknowledgement and acceptance. They find almost nothing and they become the vacuous spirits of today's men.
Contrast this to the full strata of men being present to the boys dreams, struggles and demons. Contrast this to the honest sharing of stories from the elders and the youngers, themselves ceremonied into the men's circle in earlier ceremonues. Men from 16 to their 70's taking them through a major and difficult mental, emotional and physical challenge that will push them to the limit; but not alone. They will be held in the arms of many fathers (usually with a ratio of 4 men to each boy). These men and boys are taken from their homes and families in ceremony and reality; taken to the place of men and mentored and then returned to the family, the community and the world.
This is no secret handshake ra ra ra funny hats stuff.
It was a moving, powerful, exhausting, exhilarating 5 days. it takes everyone to the edge of their comfort zone. I took a young man through with me-I stood in for his father who was not available. When I first wanted to take my son through this transition I sought knowledge from other cultures who still keep these rites alive. A friend was also looking for something for his son. I was relating our journey to a friend, when he said Oh you mean like Tracks? I said Tracks, whats that? That was the beginning of a connection with an organisation that has been doing these rites of passage for girls and boys for over 10 years. It came from the men's movement- groups of men who freely chose to enter into a hallowed space of shared experience, encouragement, belonging. When I first went with my son to his own rite of passage 5 years ago, my experience of meeting with men was limited, like many men, to the pub, the sports dressing room or clubroom-culturally acceptable ways men tried to get together. I had had some experience, through the Catholic church, of groups of men getting together, but it was always filtered through our shared Christianity and so missing some of the grime and reality of our patchy lives. And not fully concious of the value of men getting together.Or able to accept men regardless of beliefs.So it was with great relief, comfort, grief that I was able to be a part of a group who supported the boys through the transition. I felt great sadness both because of my own extremely poor transition and also for letting go of my son,I found other men with similar stories; some much worse and sadder. How we initiated ourselves then.
My life partner has just returned from a similar journey with our daughter
My hope and dream is realizing this vision for all our youth. It is part of my desire to reform the village with it's humanity and it's sanity!
Pink Transformer by Duncan Hill-a painting about aborted rites of passage and the aftermath
Oil on canvas (for sale POA)
Over the week you notice a change in the young man's way of  what I call 'standing in their own presence'-which is the best way I can describe a certain look in the eye which does not hide itself in the grass, a straightening of stature, a confidence in the voice. you notice a joy and peace that you normally associate with older men.
The organisation Tracks is open to applications to take boys through the Rite of Passage for men, as is its sister organisation, Tides. Check out www.tracks.net.nz 

Monday, 24 November 2014

God is a blog

Ive had everything lately
Sneaky and full
of events
There's been opportunities
So much more to do
closer I come

The spider sprinting across the log in the fire
Means it can feel pain
I thought it too small for nerve endings
My impending dont say it

Don't start writing about Death
It makes bad reading

I've had everything lately
It keeps getting better, thats my world
Can't unsee what I've seen
they are still there, as ghosts

Maori, awaken

Just wait until Maori (and other subjucated peoples) wake up from their trance and keep their kids at home and on the land. Bring back their health, abscond from failure that dogs them, take charge of their destinies. Hallelujah for that day! I just saw the current homeschool stats and note that only 7% make up Maori. You'd think it was the ones that it doesn't work for that would wag the system. This taniwha (protective monster) will awaken soon.It will be a marvel to witness.
footnote: Not another white guy telling Maori what to do!