The following column appeared on the 14th July, 1993. Considering our current Labour Government, strong on promises and weak on action, we don't seem to be much better off. And the hints of socialism are everywhere amongst their policies.
After a friend asked me if I knew the opposite phrase to ‘distaff side’ (‘spear side,’ we discovered), she took up my last column’s complaints about Mr Bolger, and said, ‘But who would you put in his place?’ I had no answer.
In spite of the possibilities of electoral reform, we’re still left with the problem of being unable to vote in a party’s leader.
We want leadership in this country, there’s no doubt; but not at all costs. Arrogant leadership of the Muldoon-Lange-Bolger style we can do without.
With the choices we face at present, perhaps it is time (given that it is suffrage year) to have someone on the distaff side: a Prime Ministress. But the present field is pretty narrow: would we really want the Obsessive Housekeeper, or She Whose EconomicPolicies Must Be Obeyed?
I’ve been reading a little book I picked up in the Regent book sale, Man and God, by Metropolitan Anthony (his name has nothing to do with a railway station: Metropolitan is an Orthodox church title, similar to archbishop).
This man clearly identifies one of the problems New Zealand is facing at present, though stating it in a different context.
He says when society defines man (including setting up an Ideal Abstract Man as ‘the pattern for the future’), we always meet – whatever the case, whatever the kind of dictatorship or pressure group – with something which the Russian writer, Solzhenitsyn, in his book Cancer Ward, defined in the following way.
One of the central characters has this said about him: ‘He had the greatest possible love and consideration of mankind, and this is why he hated so fiercely every human being – because they disfigured this ideal so horribly.
There is an echo here of Jenny Shipley, or Roger Douglas. Leaders who appear to have more love for their ideal State, where properly managed finances will supposedly bring proper social order, than for the individuals within it.
As M. Anthony points out, such leaders’ ideals are always focused on the future. Consequently the real people they are dealing with here and now have to be ‘transformed, changed and remoulded.’ Unfortunately, past experience ‘shows that many bones crack and many things have to be changed by force and even violence.’ (The communist revolution is one example.)
Individual people are disregarded in this kind of social change; people are only seen collectively.
Here in New Zealand it is easy to see those who commit benefit fraud as one group who blaspheme the great god Economy. It is also easy to lump the Poor together as one large unpalatable porridge.
Within our leaders’ world view, the poor eventually disappear not because of Recovery but because they have no means of surviving. Crime becomes their only hope and they are committed to prison. The prisons become totally overloaded, and finally something more permanent is done..?
Not in New Zealand?
We need a distaff side to our spear side policies: humanity as well as economy. We need policies that see people not as abstractions, but as unique wondrous creatures, each one called by name ‘out of (the) nothingness from which we were drawn by the will of God.’ (Anthony again.)
Arrogant and unjust rulership tends to arise when we leave God out, and though many of my readers won’t agree, New Zealand still needs God.
And New Zealand leaders need to see people as God sees them: perhaps not going so far as counting the hairs on their heads, but at least knowing that individuals make up the crowd.