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                                           Trust, not Anger...
Good afternoon dear reader & welcome to my world for another week. Around November 4th someone hacked at, then shot, a baby sea lion called Rua near Quarantine point on the Otago Peninsula. This was an act of undiluted cruelty, with no reward to the killer other than the pleasure of destruction. This was a human act.

Of course, humans are not cruel only to animals. They do brutal deeds to other humans, with the same sorry satisfaction. We have this decade become used to the ungodly beheadings by Islamic State tortures & mass murders of innocents. This all on the other side of the world. We can comfortingly think of the perpetrators as uncivilised aliens consumed by warped religious precepts: not us & not of us.  
But when we flick our clock back 150 years to the Waikato, we learn of British imperial troops shooting or burning defenceless, fleeing "native" women & children in a trumped-up war of occupation. Those Christian troops too are aliens to us only in time. Some settled on land they took after their war. Their descendants walk with us as fellow modern citizens &, with us, enjoyed Christmas a week ago.
The celebration reminds us, or could, that Aotearoa New Zealand has a Christian tradition ~ not now in ritual & submission, except for a minority, but surely in the sense of Christian teaching to "love thy neighbour as thyself".  This teaching tells us anger is waste. Anger value in our psychological makeup is to save us from danger. When danger is absent or has passed, anger uses energy which could be productively applied in positive emotions.
Jo Kukutai pointed the way in an interview on November 3rd  Kukutai is the daughter of a Kinohaku couple killed in October by Ross Bremner who had earlier killed his mother & critically injured his father in Otorohanga. Bremner, who was psychologically unstable, killed himself.
Kukutai told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint: "He (Bremner) was a real person. So was his mum & so was Keith (his father). "It' is not the person who murdered my parents or the person who did what he did. He was a person who had an illness.
"We (Kukutai's family) weren't angry at him. We weren't angry at the family.
"Having anger & resentment doesn't bring them (the dead) back or fix anything. There is enough hatred in the world & this was not going to help us. The best way was to forgive & forgive quickly."
Contrast the many angry statements by victims' families outside courtrooms or victims themselves in their court statements. They risk imprisonment in their anger. The prison can take many forms.
Andrew Solomon, a writer & psychology professor, found one in Cambodia, a country ravaged in the 1970s by the Khmer Rouge, which was as hateful & destructive as the Islamic state. Solomon interviewed Phaly Nuon, a survivor of the killing & of a brutal incarceration. Nuon had only one child to live for after a daughter was raped & killed in front of her, her baby starved to death & her husband taken away.
In a resettlement camp later Nuon, an educated woman, set out to "teach" other women, first by "crowding their minds with new things to talk about, not that they would ever forget what happened but it would not occupy their whole minds", then "by teaching them to work" at things, however trivial, & "had some meaning for them" & then teaching them trust.
Nuon did this by handing out sharp instruments to do manicures & pedicures on each other. "The barrier you could never make yourself vulnerable to another person (as a result of the atrocities) began to fall, they began to speak to one another & they began to remember what it was like to trust somebody."
With trust, humans live well with each other. Trust can take many forms. One is between a teacher & the taught. This played out on a Jetstar flight from Sydney to Melbourne in April. A teenager with Down syndrome had lain in the aisle, unmoving. The plane could not land while he was not seated.
Anger & hostility was building in the cabin. Sophie Murphy, a special needs teacher & lecturer, responded to a call from the cabin staff. "I knew it was important to develop a relationship with him, by using the right tone & language," Murphy wrote later. She said teachers know relationships with their students are "the most important foundation for learning. Connecting, knowing their name, showing you care, being mindful & smiling are not just good behaviours. They are integral."
She got down with the boy. "I needed to let him speak, not panic him or be punitive. I needed to lock on to his eyes & show empathy. I learnt his favourite books, not as an ice-breaker but to construct a real relationship, however brief." The boy got up. The plane landed. Trust, not anger, got the plane down.
Would you trust a person who never stopped demanding revenge after an unspeakable act against a relative? Or would you trust Jo Kukutai, who chose forgiveness & to think of her parents' killer as a "real person"?  ~  1
Trust, not anger is a Christmas message to take into 2017.
Thank you for taking the time to be with me once again, & I hope my journey may encourage you also. I trust you all had a lovely Christmas & looking forward to a relaxing & happy New Year, & my thoughts are with you all. I look forward to sharing with you all sometime early in 2016; this is Kenn Butler in Paradise, Nelson, with my best wishes for 2017.

~  1Replicated with thanks & some nominal adjustment in an article by Colin James in The Otago Daily Times column December 27th 2016 entitled: Trust, not anger: a strong Christmas message

Kenn Butler
Copyright © 2016 Paradise Brokers, All rights reserved.

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