Children are living in poverty in New Zealand. It is a problem. Politicians put capital letters on the words child and poverty and make the problem a minor political issue. The issue is put to the electorate. People vote, nothing is solved.
Our nation prides itself on being progressive and tolerant. The attitudes at the heart of our nation that make people tolerant and progressive are the same attitudes that allow New Zealanders to tolerate children living in poverty and secretly want to progress away from it towards a richer economic future.
Children have high dependency needs which often impact on the freedom of adults. This is not new. What is new in our society at every level is a thirst for freedom of the individual at all costs. It spawns all manner of greedy, pleasure seeking, ego-centric behaviour in adults which trickles down into the world of children. A child may go to school hungry because of this, another may go with every possible advantage money can buy but both may go to school unloved and unhappy, unable to learn. Something in our nation’s psyche needs to give if people really want to improve the lot of children in this country.
Parents who claim to love their unhappy children have a glaring lack of knowledge about the nature and social responsibility of parental love. Governments and money cannot fix this, they have to work with it. Tolerance and progress are gods in New Zealand. These leave little room for the Christian God, a God whose son Jesus Christ taught that self-sacrifice is at the heart of all love and that freedom and happiness for all is not found in selfish behaviour but in each and everyone of us endeavouring to love others more than we love our ego.
Sue is a regular writer for Catholic publications in N.Z and is connected to the Wairoa parish of St. Peters and St. Mary's in Gisborne.