Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Who wants to lose?

Port Hills overlooking Lyttelton Harbour
We left Christchurch at the end of last year, over two years after the quakes first started. People still asked us if we left because of the quakes. The answer primarily was no, but there was a "but". We wouldn't have been in the same work situation, if it hadn't been for the quakes. We possibly wouldn't have made the same decision if we hadn't lived through such a perspective changing event. The ongoing fighting, frustrations and consequences of the quakes are tough to live with as a backdrop to your everyday life, if you have the option of leaving most of them behind.
What is to become of Christchurch? - This opinion piece by James Dann in the NZ Herald about the green frame and property prices, certainly received a lot of comments. I read the piece and many of the comments. The more I think about it the more I wonder about winning and losing.
Who decides who wins, or possibly more accurately who doesn't lose, out of the quakes?
The names James Dann mentions, are clearly people who have "won" before (a lot) in the property game of the city. Why did we expect anything different than for them to be the winners again? This is the system we have been running with for quite some time now.
The residential red zone has been frequently talked about as a situation of winners and losers. Yet again  it feels there is anger that the same people who always lose, have lost again. Why are we so surprised? Before the quakes when it wasn't quite so blatant, it rarely got a mention.
Is the anger because now it is out in the open rather than behind closed doors or because for once we all have to face the reality of what our society values and how it actually works?
What surprised me most when last year I had an opportunity to catch a glimpse into the power structures at work in the city, is how we are all so basically the same. We all want to win more than we lose or to not let the bad guys, (whomever they are in our perspective), win. 
As a parent I spend so much time - and it feels most other parents do too - trying to teach kindness, sharing nicely and treating others as you want to be treated. And yet as adults while we dress it up in different words or reasoning we don't do the very things we tell the newbies of our society, the kids, to do.
Some of the things I love about Christchurch's recovery are Gap Filler and Life in Vacant Spaces and their ability to subvert the system. They don't seem to be playing at winning and losing but at fostering community. 
From experience trying to build community is really hard. Christchurch did it brilliantly just after the quakes. I have not heard a single person say that part of the quake experience was a bad thing they wished hadn't happened. As humans we seem to like it more than the winning/losing thing. But Christchurch showed we can only do it en masse for a limited time and when other options are scarce.
We are just rubbish at it, possibly, because constantly we have to fight our urge either to be a winner or to take the winners down, rather than concentrating on building the community up whatever the cost to us. 
One other thing how come a 'win-win' seems something most people like, while the idea - everybody wins - is groan inducing?
If all the inspirational quotes frequently shared on facebook seem to say we can only change ourselves and not others - am even I prepared to not win? 
Let me just think about an answer to that question for a minute.....

5 Favourite Sights Seen

  • 1996 Watching tropical lightning turn night to day, outside a little wooden church in a small village in Sabah.
  • 2004 Flying down the Rainbow Valley at 8000ft in a cessna on a clear blue day.
  • 2003 Seeing and hearing Michael Schmacher rolling out of the pit garage in his Ferrari in Hungary.
  • 2009 Chancing upon 100 or more dolphins just off the Kaikoura Coast swimming around, jumping out of the water, doing somersaults and generally having fun.
  • 2006 Finding a pool at the bottom of a waterfall in the bush at Kaikoura that was full of playing baby seals.