Saturday, November 07, 2009

Growing in unpeace stories: an updated response to Hone Harawira

Updated: Hone has apologised. This includes in relation to my point 1, in which he adds a very helpful nuance, specifically that of “colonisers.”

“He should have instead referred to what European colonisers had done … He accepted his language had damaged Maori-Pakeha relations and he apologised for demeaning women. The controversy had damaged his credibility and he would be doing “serious bridge building” with his caucus.”

And he commits himself to bridge-building. I honour that sentiment in him. Now will Pakeha, and the media, give him the space to move and grow?

Public disclaimer: I have been very tempted to vote for the Maori Party at the last two elections. I felt that the Foreshore and Seabed legislation was an injustice, a misuse of political power and a disgrace to New Zealand’s commitment to the Treaty and that we needed a Maori voice in Parliament, not hobbled within a larger party.

So it’s interesting to hear the following Maori party opinion on my voice, culture and ethics.

“Gee Buddy, do you believe that white man bullshit, too, do you? White motherf***ers have been raping our lands and ripping us off for centuries and all of a sudden you want me to play along with their puritanical bullshit.”

So wrote Maori political party member Hone Harawira recently.

Well yes, at Parihaka (which we remembered on this blog only a few days ago) white men did. It was a sad and shameful day that I wish it had not happened.

But Hone do you really think that the best way to move the discussion forward is to
1 – Lump me and my white friends today in with that story? You run the risk of connecting me to history solely by skin colour. And that’s racism isn’t it?

(When I seek to grow people in peace through mediation techniques, I suggest a groundrule, that we stick to the issue, that we play the ball, not the person. That includes racist cultural comments)

2 – Assert that a historic wrong by one culture gives another a culture a right to different codes of behaviour? If you don’t like the codes (in this case being sent to work in Europe on political business and using a day to be a tourist in Paris), by all means protest the codes. But do that before you go. Not after you’ve been caught.

(When I seek to grow people in peace through mediation techniques, I suggest a groundrule, that we deal with issues one at a time. If you have concerns with history, we seek to listen to each other around history. If you have a concern with puritanical ethics we seek to listen to each other around ethics. If you have a concern with how the relate together, we seek to listen to each other around all three. But jumping from issue to issue is rarely helpful.)

3 – Hone, the city of Paris was built partially on French colonial pillage. So it seems quite rich for you to enjoy the Parisian pillage, and then protest the pillage upon return?

(When I seek to grow people in peace through mediation techniques, I suggest there are times to apologise, not just with words, but by outlining ways that the person will act in the future to ensure the behaviour is not repeated. What could look like in this situation Hone, so that you and I can move on, so that we are not forever referring back to this moment in history, so that I can have confidence to vote for your party in the next election?)

Posted by steve at 09:54 AM

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