I’ve set this page aside as a place to archive my weekly newspaper columns, which I wrote for Hawke’s Bay Today / NZME from May 2006 to December 2020.
When I get to it, I’ll link a few of the 730-odd up as examples, arranged by topic; the idea is not so much to showcase my work as to provide a picture of life in provincial New Zealand over the bulk of the first two decades of this century.
In the meantime, here’s a copy of my final column, just so you know where I’ve been:
Here endeth the lesson (link as published below)
There’s no way of avoiding the inevitable and, just as climate change will inevitably sweep aside civilization as we know it, so time and tide have caught up with some who have long fought to re-shape that change for the better.
Including me. Yes, this will be my last official weekly column.
Not because I’ve given up speaking truth to power; not because of the apparent futility in confronting the bloody savagery with which our insane species insists on conducting its affairs; but simply because after half a century of activism I’d like a little “me time” before I die.
If that sounds bleak, it isn’t meant that way. I have songs to sing, poems to recite, books to author; plenty to keep me busily creative – but for myself, for a change.
Some of you – those for whom the twisted narcissistic illogic of the heavily-promoted fascist stooges is sickly sweet – will doubtless rejoice as yet another humanist voice is lost. One less prick to your conscience as you uncaringly consume the world.
Some of you – for whom words like “environment” and “sustainability” and “wellbeing” are not tools or catch-cries or ideals but fundamental living practices – may despair as the opportunities for such voices to be heard narrow the more. All I can do is encourage you to keep raising your own.
And many of you – most, perhaps, if current trends in disinformation and deliberate confusion and simple lack of common-sense education continue – will likely not even notice what’s missing. Sadly, that includes your future.
That last is indeed a subject for despair, for we seem to have entered a padded bubble of ignorance where even the obvious genuine conspiracies marked by class and wealth are subsumed in a fog of unreason and disinterest.
Where the things that mesmerise the masses are invidious fictions designed to provoke fear and anger and mistrust in all directions between all peoples, such that debate about the realities of our collective situation is impoverished or, most horrifyingly, dismissed as inconsequential.
It’s no exaggeration to state that, for someone like myself, writing into such a void eats at the soul. After (by my count) some 737 columns over fourteen-and-a-half years, that’s a lot of negativity to absorb, let alone try to counter.
That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed raising what bars I might, nor seeing some of my work transform into successes at both governance and community levels. I’m proud to have played some part in helping tweak Hawke’s Bay out of the racist provincial old-boy’s-club mindset it had when we arrived here in 2004 to something more akin to an environmentally-aware and cosmopolitan shared community of interest, that it is becoming.
But there is still a long way to go before all who inhabit this region, let alone Aotearoa / New Zealand as a whole, are able to find ways to regenerate ourselves to envision and commit to a truly vibrant and sustainable outlook.
In that regard, I’m saddened that many in our rural communities still see regulation and compliance on environmental matters as impediments rather than opportunities; still insist on following an industrial/chemical model of “farming” that ultimately destroys our land and water. To them I say, corporations are not your friends, and bigger does not mean better.
Remember, there is always hope, but you have to strive for it; and there is always love, but you have to be open to it.
Thank you for your engagement, dear readers. I’ve never asked you to agree with me – but I trust I’ve made you think.