What do we stand for?

added by Craig Steel
Glass of milk in a paddock with blurred cows in the background

As the fall-out from the atrocities in Paris continue, knowing what we stand for as a nation has suddenly become ever more important.

No so long ago, we were proud of Fonterra and its performance on the global stage. Today we are more worried about what our farmers are doing to our environment and reputation as a country than the economic benefits they deliver.

We have an airline that’s getting better every year, world-leading designers in almost every sector, Xero, the Wynyard Group and a quality education system and yet we have thousands of children living in poverty while our prisons are overflowing with young Maori and Polynesian men who could otherwise be contributing to this country whilst building themselves a future.

We have some who can afford a second property buying one in order to increase their personal wealth but by doing so, they are keeping the country poor by locking the next generation out. Although not unique to us, too many New Zealanders are lagging behind or at the very least, struggling to get ahead.

As long as the national psyche is driven by a desire to look out for ‘ourselves’ rather than ‘each other’, we will limit our chances of becoming a stronger and healthier society.

Unlike the All Blacks who took on the world as a team, we don’t and yet our future relies on us doing so.

To succeed, we need to work together in order to use the resources we have to produce products and services the world values and yet we remain preoccupied with the notion of international competition - rather than focusing on the growing number of consumers around the world who are willing to pay a premium for proven high quality goods and services.

If we want to prosper as a nation, we need to become a more united and sophisticated society that values human life and that which sustains it. We need new and better ways to generate the wealth we need to disrupt the cycle of poverty that continues to plague us. We need to understand that it is only by working together that we can become a nation others will want to visit and interact with, rather than being an island in the South Pacific that shares the same issues as everyone else.

To progress in this respect, we need to engage in a more intelligent conversation about what we value and ultimately what we stand for. We need to think about how we behave as an individual to know if we are part of the solution or whether in fact we are part of the problem by seeing the issues we face as someone else’s job.

The bombings in Paris over the weekend are a horrific reminder that the world is facing challenges that can only be addressed when everyday people are prepared to work together in order to care for others.

Yes, we know these acts were carried out by extremists, but at what point in time will we come to understand that hatred is not born, it is fostered by those who’ve come to believe there is no future and thus opt out of the idea of creating one?


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