Escape plan.

In a few weeks I will be back in the land of China. Though they are famous for making everything there is to make, to be completely honest I don’t trust a lot of these products being safe to use. Especially when it comes to pharmaceutical products. So to get around this problem, I take a whole years supply from New Zealand with me.

 

Today I went pharmacy hopping to collect said supplies. It’s perfectly legal to collect prescriptions your doctor gives you, but you are only allowed one prescription registered at one pharmacy. Drawing on the precision of Google Maps, I planned a circuitous route around the southern part of my city, and settled on visiting three large pharmacies close by, my theory being they would have my rather uncommon drugs available due to their size, and I wouldn’t have to make multiple trips back to collect leftovers. Alas the first pharmacy I visited said ‘please come back tomorrow’ so that threw that plan out the window.

 

Entering the second pharmacy of the three, I handed in my form, was told to wait around for about fifteen minutes, and turned to gaze over every colourful label I could set my eyes on. Which in a pharmacy is quite a lot. Getting bored of this time wasting activity, I turned to my next favourite social pastime: people watching.

 

Near the counter we had one woman and her child, both coughing, being directed to the syrup medicine stack and discussing the benefits of each different coloured bottle. Near the pain relief stack, there was a young guy chatting away on his cellphone about the benefits of quitting alcohol, and making sure he procured the right drugs needed to ease his headache so he could take his son to daycare tomorrow (commendable chap indeed). One benefit of living in China, I’ve discovered, is I can now stand at a distance and still tune into conversations not in any close range to me. I directed my ears to the conversation of another couple that sat down about ten feet away from me whenever cellphone guy became out of reach.

 

Without warning, a slight hush descended from behind me, along with a very tense atmospheric pressure. Another younger guy walked in. His baggy clothes were not able to fully cover what slight skeletal structure he had, nor did his large red bag give any illusion to chest or back size. He asked for some medicine, the specifics were lacking, except they were a meager $5 expenditure. Every pharmacist not already at the front counter had retreated to the back, and gathered like wildebeest do when approached by a lion. He must be known here, I assumed.

 

One pharmacist however was manning the desk when he entered, and was subsequently first in line for questioning. She would ask him repeatedly for a script, a form, or any piece of paper that showed he could have legal access to this mystery $5 drug. He presented nothing but a growing agitation. Voices escalated to the point of aggression, and everyone else around had physically been put on pause by these noises. No one made a move, myself included. I stood transfixed by the anger, and my own thoughts of self-preservation (what with my imagination running wild). Then, just as quick as the escalation, so was the retreat of ‘red bag man’. I collected my medicine straight after his departure, and walked with a little more caution in my step back to my car. The last words I can recall are from the pharmacist remarking how ‘he’s been doing this more frequently than the last relapse’.

 

Sitting in the safe metallic bubble of my car, I became very thankful New Zealand has a no guns policy (a very removed thought from the actual circumstance). At this moment though I realised that if he was having a bad day, and we were a country with a lax law saying his access to guns is an important human right, suddenly everyone in the pharmacy could have been having a bad day. I’m not saying there are no guns in New Zealand, far from such a wild declaration. But the fact that my government makes it considerably hard to procure these makes me feel really good about the ‘condition of humanity’ I grew up in.

 

Addiction I know is a very debilitating state of functioning, and I really wish I could have helped red bag man. Seeing addiction out in the open though, and in such a normal environment like a pharmacy, is something I’m not accustomed towards, and my responses towards it at the time are probably seen as very unhelpful/negative.

 

So how would you have reacted? Would you have gone to the aid of the pharmacist? Would you have approached him? Or would you have been like me, and done nothing but write about reflected thoughts?

 

 

 

 

E.

I spy with my little eye.

Something beginning with D…

Growing up, Dad was always right.

There’s probably one parent you become somewhat more mentally attached to. Mine is my Dad. I wanted to be just like him. I remember not going to church, because I wanted to stay home and join ‘the dark side with cookies’ as he jokingly suggested. But without that, I would have discovered reasonable thought at a much later stage in life (or possibly, never). I remember him leaving super early for work, so I’d get up just as early to watch the crappy morning TV on Sky. But without that I would have a lazier work ethic than I do today. I remember fishing for hours and listening to Dad say his thoughts openly to the ocean, and me. Without that I would not have this urge to speak out for myself, or my slight addiction to arguing for the purpose of hearing the whole story (and not just believing my own interpretation of events).

My father deserves more credit than he has ever been given, and don’t be fooled into thinking I don’t respect/value/love him (because I do with all my heart). Growing up in a low socio-economic family bracket in a time when virtually no handouts were available (compared to today) he now supports a family who live in the high socio-economic bracket. Without my father (and mother, of course) working and saving as hard as they did, my life, quite frankly, would be an entirely different story.

But sometimes, we learn lessons without the influence of our parents.

Enter a short acronym that has been of great concern to New Zealand: GCSB.

Four little letters that hold a lot more power than their syllables suggest.

What I think I know/feel about the proposed GCSB Amendment Bill.

  1. It will allow the GCSB to spy on New Zealand citizens (they have allegedly been doing it for years, but a clause found last year has shown it is currently illegal for them to do so).
  2. It will allow metadata from all technological communications to be stored in one ‘universal cloud’ system.
  3. This cloud system has the potential to be used/hacked by foreign agents.
  4. Without an independent third party authority reviewing cases regarding New Zealand citizens, there is no way to show justifiable means of surveillance authorised from either the GCSB or the Prime Minister.
  5. The ‘I have nothing to hide or fear from the current Government’ argument is only applicable to the current political rule. A more tyrannical/evil Government could take huge advantages of these proposed changes.
  6. The New Zealand Human Rights Commission, Privacy Commission, and Law Commission all show strong objections to the current proposed changes.

A small summary, yes, but huge impacts nonetheless.

I don’t blame or condemn my father’s approach to the proposed bill. He is a huge National supporter, and growing up in my father’s shade meant so was I. I didn’t want our family to become poor. I didn’t want my father’s hard work to go unnoticed. I didn’t want to see worthless system abusers get a free ride.

For the most part, I still agree with my father’s intentions.

For the most part.

He supports the proposed GCSB Amendment Bill.

Watching the GCSB protest today I learnt that we have it very lucky in New Zealand. We don’t need to use violence to show our disappointment. We can gather peacefully and express our frustrations and thoughts. Sometimes it’s used for good, when the speaker actually understands the impact this protest can deliver. Sometimes it’s used for bad, when protests are hijacked by people wanting to express an idea not consistent with the aim of the protest.

To get New Zealanders to pay attention towards protests (and ideas) is the key, and I’m unsure as to whether this protest achieved it. It was my first time attending one though, so my emotions were not fully engaged toward the content, but spread about between content, emotional response, and crowd fascination.

 

What I think I know/feel about my own intentions, after witnessing a protest.

Sometimes little children grow up exactly like their parent/s.

Sometimes, they don’t.

 

 

I spy with my little eye, something beginning with D…

Dog.

Doctor

Door.

Dairy.

Display.

Dad.

Difference.

 

 

E.

 

Parliament dress up. I spy. Crowd shot. Acronym redefined.  Sign for support. Every number counts.

“It worked”.

These two words were uttered by Julius Robert Oppenheimer, aka ‘the father of the atomic bomb’ at 05:29:21 July 16, 1945. At this precise moment the very first atomic bomb, Trinity to its makers, exploded above the Jornada del Muerto desert and announced the atomic evolution of humankind.

I’m from New Zealand, a very well known passively aggressive country, whose stance on nuclear weapons is proudly summed by NZ Prime Minister David Lange’s near opening lines of “there is no moral place for nuclear weapons”. (A full audio recording is available here http://publicaddress.net/2424). So, why would a Kiwi choose to be a ‘fly on the wall’ in such a removed historical setting that which she is not accustomed, nor affected, by.

I would want to be a fly on the wall at the very instance of 05:29:21 July 16, 1945, in the Jornada del Muerto desert, because it is the very moment where humanity realised its absolute power, and shook hands with mutual destruction. It is when we overlooked the fairness of war, and gazed upon a singular ultimatum. It is when we looked at the pureness of energy, and turned it into something ultimately, and undeniably, horrific.

I would want to see the men and women responsible for the knowledge we all have been burdened with. The knowledge, that there are some countries out there with power far beyond their measures. There are countries with a red button, that if having a bad day, can single handedly start the greatest destruction we can only as yet imagine. There are countries, which by possessing this madness, dictate to others through fear and intimidation, leaving peaceful resolutions blown apart.

I would want to see the eyes of the men and woman responsible. I want to see if any shine brighter than their creation does. And do they shine with doubt, with regret, with fear? Or were they all shining with power?

And would my eyes shine at such a sight also?

If you could be a ‘fly on the wall’ for any moment of history, where would you choose to go?

E.

Sorry New Zealand.

I grew up on the right side, politically speaking that is. My Dad was always the most vocal in our family, and my thinking would sync with his, cause I thought it was a well-known fact that ‘Dad is always right’. I am also privileged to come from a family who are financially better off than your average ‘Ma and Pa’. So the right side heavily influenced my thoughts about money and financial protection. I thought if you’re stupid enough to not work hard, or save hard, then it was your own damn fault for being poor.

 

The last New Zealand election, I voted National, the centre-right, and now dominant party in NZ Government.

 

I am sorry New Zealand that I did.

 

I have learnt, through watching some outrageous sufferings, that my family is in a tremendously lucky position (though my parents do deserve all the credit in the world for their hard work), and vast majorities of people worldwide are simply not afforded such opportunities.

 

I vow to vote with my own conscience now. No longer will I support –

 

Needless environmental destruction.

Needless child hunger.

Needless financial inequality.

Needless economic failures.

Needless Governmental restrictions.

Needless inequality amongst fellow beings.

 

No longer will I look at the colour of the flag, the smiles of the rats, the polished promise of change. I have seen flags burn, rats bite, and promises left in ruins.

 

I am angry at politics, but not angry enough to leave it up to others. Every vote counts, every voice counts. I have one year before the next elections to study up, before I will allow my voice heard again.

 

Next time, it will roar.

 

 

 

 

E.