Twitter is, alternately, my great frustration and my great delight. I make it a policy to follow a collection of people who are in no way like-minded with the views that I hold dear and true – in part, because I like to be challenged, and perhaps in small part because I feel the need to keep an eye on the crazies that I might be up against, at least philosophically.
So this week, I surprised even myself at the joy I felt on reading a tweet from @tameiti, self proclaimed “Activist, Artist, Terrorist and Cyclist. Living in the heart of the Tuhoe Nation.”
Having grown up in a different place, where parts of our beloved country were carved off into ‘sovereign states’ in the name of ‘self-determination’ for the tangata whenua (though we didn’t call them that), I have viewed with disdain the apparent desire of the Tuhoe Nation to declare the Ureweras their own sovereign state, reclaiming their rangitiratanga. And I have to say that my views on the 2007 police raids in the Ureweras were entirely true to my conservative, capitalist some might say ‘Tory’ mindset.
So I was truly moved – in part, moved the fact that I was actually moved – by this gesture of reconciliation. In a world where the consequences of inter-generational hurt and wrongs are so visibly played out nightly on our TV screens in news from Gaza, I couldn’t help but feel a huge wave of admiration for Tame Iti’s acceptance of Police Commissioner Mike Bush’s willingness to front up and listen. Listen to the hurt that was real (whether or not the action was justified).
I have spent a lifetime in marketing trying to persuade businesses that perception is reality. That if a consumer believes this about your brand, product or service, then it is true for them – whether or not it is true for you.
How much more important is it then, that we as a nation understand that the hurt felt by the Tuhoe people, at the 2007 raids, and at the no doubt mulitple perceived injustices of the past, is real. Real to them, irrespective of whether or not we believe they are justified in feeling that way.
And so we should and in fact, must, all admire the fact that at least some of them – most notably their high profile leader, are willing to express acceptance of an apology, and importantly of the listening that went with that apology. In some small way, this should give us all hope for the future – a future in which the sins of the fathers are not, inevitably, passed on to the sons. A future where the next generation is encourage to look past the frailty of human nature that led to past wrongs, look beyond the past to build a better future.
Because the alternative – all too visible internationally – is simply not an option. Irrespective of who is right, and who is wrong, the continued bombardment of Gaza by Israel is unquestionably breeding the next generation of terrorists, freedom fighters or whatever you wish to call them.
So hat’s off to Tame Iti (and to Mike Bush too). Conflicts can escalate all too easily in the festering abyss of hard-feelings and past wrongs. In every conflict, resolution is only made possible by one or other side taking the role of rational adult – we are indeed fortunate that in this case, there appear to have been adults on both sides.