The Trying Times

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reporter: Jonathan, 7.8.07

I've been thinking a lot lately (the last month or so) about the state of community in New Zealand.

I was delivering little booklets for church the other day to a few streets around and including Mahia Road, and was quite surprised at the state of properties in this area.

- Lots of graffiti
- Unrepaired
fences and gates
- Dogs wandering the streets
- Cars in disrepair
- Unmown lawns

This neighbourhood is clearly full of residents who simply don't care about their property.

This is not however a poverty issue. This is people choosing to live in a pig sty.

- It's not cheaper to let a dog roam the street than to not have a dog in the first place.
- It's not cheaper to graffiti than to not graffiti.
- It's not cheaper to have a car up on block with panels missing than to get a scrap metal company to take it away for free (or give you money to take it away). Especially when your other car is a late model 4x4 with 'We Want You Motor group' proudly displayed on the spare wheel cover.

People talk of the 'good old days', when;

- you could leave your car keys in ignition when you went into the shop
- you could leave you house unlocked
- you could park you car anywhere you wanted without concern of whether it will get stolen
- you could leave things in the back seat with out fear that some one might see it and break in to steal it
- you knew everyone in your street by name

This is no longer part of New Zealand Society, especially places like South Auckland. Why?

Actions that we may considered the right and safe thing to do at the time, I think, are in fact contributing to the escalation of crime.

In response to crime we;

- get burglar Alarms
- get insurance
- get bigger locks
- move out of the bad areas
- no longer walk down certain streets or alleyways
- no longer park in particular places
- don't venture into dodgy areas
- don't let our children off our property unless they're with an adult
- don't send our kids to that school anymore
- get more insurance

and the list goes on and on...

Because 'good' people no longer live or venture into 'bad' areas what hope do these area have to become 'good' again?

Because we have insurance it doesn't matter that the police don't have time for petty crime. sure it's an inconvenience but we got our money back.

Because we all have big locks and alarms people who happen to leave something unlocked 'deserve' to have their house broken into.

As a community we are withdrawing, and as we, rightly or wrongly, withdraw, we are creating space in our community. If it's not good upstanding members of the community filling this space then then who will fill this space?

There is a quote which says - all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men to do nothing

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil in our community is for good men to hide behind bigger locks, taller fences and more comprehensive insurance.

8 Comments:

Yep good stuff.

It's hard work though. I've been painting out graffiti for near on a year in the alley way accross from my house. It is constantly tagged. Each day there are new tags. It begins to feel pointless, but at least its not always full of tagging.

reporter - Blogger Scotty, at 3:09 PM, August 07, 2007 

That's why I think the community part is so important. You will never be able to change society on your own. What it needs is for everyone to stand up and say, Hey we're not going to tollerate graffiti in that alleyway anymore. If you and 50 other people painted out the graffiti in you street graffiti would decrease significantly. Sure you would still get the odd person from outside your community tagging on your stuff, but it would improve.

reporter - Blogger Jonathan, at 3:17 PM, August 07, 2007 

Nice in theory... in practice somewhat more difficult.

There are a small group of neighbours whom I have come to know. They don't like graffiti and paint it out on their own fences as often as it gets targeted. Most of these people are older folk. Some of them stand up to the youths who are tagging and tell them to move along when they see them. Often the young people just swear at them or continue on doing what they are doing.

Not much we can really do about that except ring the police. Which we do. However by the time they arrive (if they can make it) the offenders are long gone.

Like you say there are many others who just don't care. Getting them to care is the difficult bit.

Any suggestions....?

reporter - Blogger Scotty, at 5:28 PM, August 07, 2007 

My last comment was i think constructed in a hurry...

I don't think there's instant solution. I may have portrayed it as such but that was not my intention.

What I spoke of in my post has been an ongoing process. a degradation of community that has occured over many many years.

If we start doing things to turn the tide now, then maybe we can look back in time as our parents do now, pining for the 'good old days', and see the good that has come of it.

Also, regarding specifically graffiti, painting out graffiti needs to be more than simply swinging a brush. While this is a good thing to do, at the end of the day it is the band-aid on the measles responce. There's needs to be more done.

reporter - Blogger Jonathan, at 8:32 AM, August 08, 2007 

Yep you are right indeed.

I guess in some ways we do it because we don't want to live in a slum but I wish we could address the root problem.

reporter - Blogger Scotty, at 7:39 AM, August 09, 2007 

I think you guys are already working to address the root problem.
Your input into the lives of your community's youth through the ministries of your church is invaluable, and probably the best way to address the root of the problem.
We just need others to work as you do; the fields are ripe, but we need more labourers.

reporter - Blogger Dan, at 8:48 AM, August 09, 2007 

good post Jono :)

Personally im quite concerned about the state of Southmall. And have been for sometime. Now that Woolworths' lease is nearly up and they're moving out of there at the end of this year, BK has gone (i guess you could look at that as a positive thing, one less takeaway store nearby) and the stores w/in Southmall are seemingly more junky ones barring the pharmacy (but who knows how much logner that'll stay around) it just seems like its gettin to be more of a ghetto by the day. And whats more, the council seem like they couldn't care less. I should have a look at their website tho and see if they have any plans for future redevelopment to breathe some life into the place. It might not make a huge difference but im sure it would still make a bit difference to the community as a whole to have an area like that thriving once again and being a positive social & economic environment...

reporter - Blogger Silla, at 12:42 AM, August 12, 2007 

It's a lack of self respect mixed with a lack of caring about the condition of the place they live at that causes the downward slide.

Improving the outward appearance helps to bring up morale but unless the inward desire of the people is to actually improve and not simply let it get worse, the few will continue having to paint over the results of the many.

Now... how do we actually get people to care about what they are wallowing in? That is the question. And outside of a biblical foundation for morals I can't think of anything.

reporter - Anonymous Allan, at 10:08 AM, August 16, 2007 

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