Category Archives: Politics

Let there be light ~Baquer Namazi

Last week, I told a friend I would add joy to my next Advent post because it has been noticeably absent from my journey towards Christmas. Well, I searched for joy ~ I really did ~ but the closest I could get to it, for this fourth Sunday in Advent, was:

‘ Let there be light, let there be understanding,
let all the nations gather, let them be face to face.

Open our lips, open our minds to ponder,
open the door of concord opening into grace.’

Let there be light

Let there be light

The quote comes from a hymn for peace,  written and composed in 1968 by two Canadians, Frances Wheeler Davis and Robert Fleming https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-let-there-be-light  It is one of my favourite hymns to sing at any time of the year but it seems particularly appropriate for this Christmas season.

May you all be blessed with some measure of peace, hope, and joy, now and always.

And, in closing……

I would like to dedicate this  post to Baquer Namazi and his family. Baquer Namazi was my husband’s colleague for many years.  He was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran.  As he is 80 years old, and in poor health,  this sentence is tantamount to life imprisonment.  Bacquer’s former employer, UNICEF, has issued several statements about his plight, all of which I endorse.

Here is one of them.

UNICEF Statement on detention of Baquer Namazi

NEW YORK, 6 September 2016 – “It has now been over six months since Baquer Namazi, a respected former employee of UNICEF, was detained in Iran. His colleagues at UNICEF, and especially those who once worked with him, are deeply concerned about his health and well-being – as we stated on 3 March. Our concern has grown ever since.

“Mr. Namazi served at UNICEF as Representative for Somalia, Kenya and Egypt, among other positions. He worked tirelessly on behalf of the children in all those positions, often in highly difficult circumstances. He deserves a peaceful retirement.

“UNICEF does not engage in politics. We hope that Mr. Namazi will be treated as the humanitarian that he is, and that a humane perspective can be brought to his plight.

“Our thoughts remain with him and all his many friends and loved ones.”

The US State Department has also issued statements, one of which can be read here. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/10/263245.htm

And President-in-waiting, Donald Trump, has, of course, issued a tweet:  “Well, Iran has done it again. Taken two of our people and asking for a fortune for their release. This doesn’t happen if I’m president!” (Note: I don’t know what fortune, Donald Trump, is talking about.)

Our family’s  thoughts and love are with Baquer Namazi and his family. We hope that humanity and justice will prevail, and that a good man will be released.

“Let there be light, let there be understanding.”

© silkannthreades

Tired

 

I am tired.

Tired :(

Tired 😦

Tired from a miserable cold,

but, most of all, tired of the lacklustre thinking which pervades  social policies, and by implication economic policies. I am tired of a welfare system which is itself tired and past its use by date, and is plain. just. not. working for the benefit of us all. I am tired of policies which divide us into deserving and undeserving,  and which are more concerned about balance sheets  than supporting real needs. I am tired of a system which has a built-in  unemployment rate, and  which then adversely judges the unfortunate unemployed or unemployable. In that number I count my daughter who is too unwell to work, and my sister who saves the State thousands and thousands of dollars a year by voluntarily caring for our elderly parents. [ Yet, social and economic policies deem them  both worthy of only a pittance for their living costs and well-being.]

In the US, we have just seen a landmark decision which confirms people are equal in love. Before I die ( let that be a long way off! ), I would LOVE to see that same unconditional, equal LOVE  extended to  decisions which confirm we are equal in our right to a basic guaranteed (living) income; which confirm we are equal in our right to be free of the gnawing  anxiety of how we will pay for the necessaries of  life. ( You may say I’m a dreamer… 😉 )

How this can be achieved I am not sure,  but one way  which is currently being researched  is the Basic Income Guarantee. My nephew writes about this concept in his excellent, thought-provoking  post,  Money for Free, http://radicalblues.com/2015/06/27/money-for-free/

His post begins ” Check out this great new documentary on Basic Income (BI) from Dutch current affairs program Backlight. ….The documentary presents a series of vignettes on BI that provide a good sense of what’s been tried in the past, what’s being done today and what might be possible in the future.”

And if the idea of BI seems too radical or too preposterous,  here’s a little reminder that one of the most important books of  the 20th century, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, was made possible because the author  was given a year’s guaranteed income, so she could complete her novel.

Okay, time to stop sniffling about tiredness ; time to sit in the sun and have another cuppa, and re-energise. Oh, but one thing which makes me less tired is knowing  there are young people in the world who care about achieving justice in our societies.

© silkannthreades

Tarawa: Lest We Forget

We have been honouring Veterans’ Day and Remembrance Day, so it is timely to write my own ‘Lest We Forget’ post about a small place in the Pacific, to which we owe an enormous debt of gratitude.  That small  place is Tarawa Atoll.

This is what happened there from 20 -23 November 1943. ( Warning! This Academy Award Winning Documentary is VERY GRAPHIC. Please do not watch it if you find war scenes disturbing.)

The Battle of Tarawa in the Pacific Theatre of War was brutal. Within the space of 76 hours, the Americans suffered approximately 3166 casualties. Enemy casualties were also horrendous.  “Of the 3,636 Japanese in the garrison, only one officer and sixteen enlisted men surrendered. Of the 1,200 Korean laborers brought to Tarawa to construct the defenses, only 129 survived. All told, 4,690 of the island’s defenders were killed.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Tarawa

And let’s not forget that the Tarawa Atoll was inhabited by its own people . Their losses, material and psychological, were immense too, particularly for the inhabitants of Betio Island, the main site of the Battle of Tarawa. Pre-war the people of Betio had enjoyed a good subsistence lifestyle. http://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/handle/10125/15557/OP36-109-112.pdf?sequence=1   Following World War Two, their fragile environment and livelihoods were left in ruins.

And, to a large extent, in ruins they remain to this day. Not just for Betio, but for the entire country which is today known as Kiribati. In addition to war, phosphate mining and nuclear testing have  taken their toll. Now Kiribati is engaged in a new battle. It is on the front-line of another great struggle; once again not of its own making. Slowly, but surely, Kiribati is drowning. Climate change and rising sea levels are torturing Kiribati to death.

And the big powers, some of whom were once prepared to fight over Tarawa Atoll to the last man, if necessary, because it was considered so important to their success, don’t seem to give a toss.

Which means that when we come to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Tarawa in 2043, or the centenary of the end of the Second World War, there may not be much left of Tarawa to see. Within the next 50 or 60 years, most of Kiribati will be uninhabitable because of climate change.

When the land sinks beneath the sea, the people of Kiribati will become citizens of nowhere.  What a tragedy. They will be as lost and broken as the 520, or more, Marines , and the thousands of Japanese, who lie, to this day, mangled and unidentified under the fragile surface of  Tarawa. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/magazine/the-search-for-the-lost-marines-of-tarawa.html?pagewanted=all

‘Last week some 2,000 or 3,000 United States Marines, most of them now dead or wounded, gave the nation a name to stand beside those of Concord Bridge, the Bonhomme Richard, the Alamo, Little Bighorn, and Belleau Wood. The name was Tarawa.’

—Robert Sherrod, Time Magazine War Correspondent, 6 December 1943

 

This post is for climate warrior/peacemaker Matisse whose recent post on Kiribati and climate change reminded me how often we forget what is on our doorstep  http://matissewb.com/2014/11/12/the-arctic-is-melting-islands-are-disappearing-the-president-of-kiribati-sails-to-the-top-of-the-world-to-visit-the-ice-that-will-soon-swallow-his-nation/#respond   Please read her post. It is important.

Lest We Forget …battles old and new, and an island people whose sacrifices, present and past, allow us to live as we do.

© silkannthreades

 

 

Future Fridays

Come pass some time with me,

and watch the children play,

Passing Time by Donald Paterson, Fendalton Library

Passing Time by Donald Paterson, Fendalton Library

for it is for them,

I vote this way.

 Early Voting, Fendalton Library, for New Zealand elections, 20 September, 2014

Early Voting, Fendalton Library, for New Zealand elections, 20 September, 2014

With healing and love,

Gallivanta

© silkannthreades

One of the Many

This is my great-uncle.

My great-uncle

My great-uncle

This is where he lived with his mother and father, brothers and sisters.

Family Home

Family Home

This is the ship that took him to war.

Troopship MaunganuiDeck scene on the troopship Maunganui. Atkinson, J :Photographs taken in the Middle East during World War I, and postcards of New Zealand. Ref: PAColl-0095-002. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23169854

Troopship Maunganui Deck scene on the troopship Maunganui. Atkinson, J :Photographs taken in the Middle East during World War I, and postcards of New Zealand. Ref: PAColl-0095-002. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23169854

This is where he was wounded. In the guts.

Poppies, Gallipoli

Poppies, Gallipoli

This is where he died; on a hospital ship.

Place of Death     At Sea, HMHS Neuralia ex Gallipoli Date of Death     15 August 1915 Year of Death     1915 Cause of Death     Died of wounds

Place of Death At Sea, HMHS Neuralia ex Gallipoli
Date of Death 15 August 1915
Year of Death 1915
Cause of Death Died of wounds

Buried at sea, 1915, August 15, somewhere between Gallipoli and Alexandria.

But remembered here

Lone Pine Memorial, Lone Pine Cemetery, Anzac, Turkey

Lone Pine Memorial, Lone Pine Cemetery, Anzac, Turkey

and here.

One of Otago's 1900

One of Otago’s 1900

He was one of the many;  one of the 1,900 young ones, of Otago, killed during World War One; one of the 18,000 New Zealanders who died between 1914-1918; one of the 888,246 British and Commonwealth fatalities. One of…….. the list that never ends.

 

Does he rest in peace?  I can’t.

 

Acknowledgement: with thanks to my brother for his photos of the Poppies and the Lone Pine Memorial, at Gallipoli.

© silkannthreades

Southern Delights

Nau mai, haere mai ki te whare o Silkannthreades!  Welcome, welcome to the home of Silkannthreades, in the South Island of Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud, New Zealand . ~

 

Southern Delight…NO!

 

Southern Delight ……YES!

 

The weather has been grim; southerly blasts sweeping up from Antarctica, trying their best to put us in a state of deep freeze. Fortunately, when one’s own south turns bleak, there is always another south to be found.

Case in point is this piece of the southern USA ~ the Chess Pie; not exactly found, but certainly a new discovery for me. I was alerted to its existence by Linda at  The Task at Hand when we were discussing different types of traditional pies.  And, oh my, is this pie good!  I loved making it. I loved eating it!

Here’s one way to make it.

I am fascinated by traditional recipes, so I don’t mind occasionally indulging in copious amounts of sugar and other naughties in the interest of research. However, if you feel a need to cleanse your palate after visually digesting my Chess Pie, I would suggest a visit to Miss Marzipan, who is embracing what may become a new tradition; that of sugar-free living.

I don’t know if Miss Marzipan lives in the south of her current land but she has connections to South Australia, so I am counting her in on my list of Southern Delights. Interestingly, the I Quit Sugar programme she is following is the brain child of Sarah Wilson , another Southerner, who lives in Sydney, Australia. Sarah’s  book I Quit Sugar won the  2014 Australian Book Industry Awards Illustrated Book of the Year which must, surely, qualify it as a Southern Delight, too.

What I also find delightful ( in a chuckling, ex-sugar-mill-town-kid, sort of way ) about Sarah’s success is that she lives in a big, sugar-producing country. Sugar is Australia’s second biggest export crop after wheat, and brings in a total annual revenue of $A 2 billion. I am trying to imagine what we, in New Zealand, would do if one of our number set about an “I Quit Dairy” movement. The scandal might be so great that the author would need to voluntarily deport his/her person to Australia. New Zealand, mainly through Fonterra,  supplies about 30% of the world’s milk exports, with revenue in the billions; closer to 20 than 2.

A delightful, fun fact to show how seriously we take our dairy industry: this little land in the south once had a Margarine Act, which meant no margarine was sold in public in New Zealand from 1908 to 1974. Butter ruled. Margarine  could only be obtained  on a doctor’s prescription, and only if the doctor considered it vital to the patient’s health and well-being.

Haere ra!  Goodbye from here. That’s enough sweet nothings about milk, clouds, and points south.

PS ( Post Sugar) 🙂  For those readers who are unable to eat sugar or don’t wish to, please enjoy the posts of my most southerly Southern Delight, Pauline, The Contented Crafter. She is loving her I Quit Sugar world.

© silkannthreades

The land that claims us

I’ve been gallivanting; travelling across the Plains, from north to south and back again. I went to Timaru, a port city about 162km from Christchurch. I haven’t been that way in more than 3 years. It’s not very far, in terms of time or distance, but the earthquakes and their aftermath had somehow imprisoned me within the confines of my own city.

Last Thursday I broke free, and, in my trusty little Toyota Echo, I traced the old, familiar route across the wide open spaces; the fields to left and right, the snow topped mountains ever westward, the endless blue of sky above; the rivers big and little and, all along the wayside, the litany of names, the signs of our settlement, our marks upon the land….Templeton, Rolleston, Burnham, Northwood, Bankside, Rakaia, Chertsey, Ashburton, Tinwald, Hinds, Rangitata, Orari, Temuka and so many more…until I met the rolling hills that end the Plains, and the city that sits upon their folds; my destination,  Timaru.

View from Timaru

View from Timaru

Timaru is one of my homes away from home,

Home away from Home

Home away from Home; a place of shelter

mainly because my uncle and his family have lived there for  many years and are always ready to offer generous hospitality to me and my loved ones. Recently I  discovered another reason to feel bonded to Timaru. It was the initial place of residence for the Scottish side of my family when they came to New Zealand in the mid 1870s. It was also the site of our first birthing in New Zealand; from the paternal side  of the family tree, that is. A momentous occasion, perhaps, that first birthing, or, more realistically, just another fact of life for a busy settler-wife to contend with.  Whatever the case, young James arrived in the land of his parents’ choice, on 26 June 1877, followed, not long after, by his twin brother, Joseph.

Years later, a cemetery entry, which is probably that of my great-uncle, records James as a native of Scotland, despite being born and having spent most of his  life in New Zealand.

And, therein, lies the rub; which land claims us? The one we are born to, the one we live in, the one we die in, the one we feel is home, that we feel in our heart, the one we left behind, the one we long for, the one we choose, or don’t choose, the one that loves and protects us, or the one that legally bind us? Or the one that refuses to let us go?

My son, through circumstances entirely outside his control, was born in the US. His birthplace was happenstance; his first landfall, like that of his great great uncle, was an accident of birth. For the greater part of his life he has lived in New Zealand; considers himself a New Zealander and holds, and chooses to hold, New Zealand citizenship. Yet, like a dog unwilling to relinquish its bone, America, the land of his birth, holds on to him, and millions of others like him, whose only wish is to live freely, quietly and privately in the country of their own choice. America  does this via the appalling effrontery of  FATCA, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act which compels governments worldwide to hand over, to the IRS, the personal financial information of anyone (or institution) with  Born in America  next to their name. Supposedly this measure is aimed at  preventing losses to the US economy  through tax evasion.  Perhaps it will,  but does catching the tax cheats really require the Government of America to force minion foreign Governments  to trawl the electronic trail of the US diaspora for wicked tax evaders and, in the  dragnet-process,  mangle  the innocents abroad and the accidental Americans?

My ancestors  traversed thousands of miles of unruly ocean to reach New Zealand. They wanted to escape the restrictions of old societies and economies. They came looking for newer, better ways to live. Most people who settled in the US travelled long, arduous routes to get there, too.  They wanted to be free of old ways, old tyrannies, old politics.  When I look at power-mongering acts like FATCA, I wonder if any of us have travelled very far at all.

Which land claims you?

Which land claims you?

© silkannthreades