© 2010 Lynsey

327 – Returning home

Every single person has capabilities, abilities and gifts. Living a good life depends on whether those capabilities can be used, abilities expressed and gifts given. If they are, the person will be valued, feel powerful and well-connected to the people around them. And the community around the person will be more powerful because of the contribution the person is making. — John P. Kretzmann and John L. McKnight

This town has been treated as a third world nation for long enough. For many years these rooms were part of one of the many sewing factories that abounded in in W(h)anganui. While I was at High School the girls went off to work in the sewing factories or became solo mothers (not necessarily in that order), the boys went off to work in the farms, freezing works, factories, the railways, or the dole queue. An elite few found work in offices or the hospital, and the truly desperate worked hospitality/retail. Some made it out to university or teachers college. Some just ran and ran and never came back.

Slavery is an essential component in a capitalist world, and the workers in the factories and surrounding farms were no better than that. We were all paid the minimum amount employers would pay, some of us worked long days in dull and dangerous work. In some cases the danger is only just becoming evident as middle and later life comes to those of us who worked in the chemical filled environments. It’s quite common to hear conversations at reunions along the lines of – ‘Do you remember [name]?’ – ‘Oh yeah, what’s he doing now?’ – ‘Dying of cancer.’ – ‘Eh? He can’t much more than 60.’ – ‘Too much dust from the MDF – filled with formaldehyde.’

As the need for cheap labour and cheap real estate was replaced by communication and computing technologies the various government departments abandoned Wanganui. As manufacturing in other countries became viable the local slaves lost out to the even cheaper, union free slaves in Fiji and then China; and the manufacturing departed. As the revenue streams departed, the brightest and best in all fields – from the worst and most vicious criminal through to most dedicated humanitarian got up and went.

What’s left is a town with an infrastructure that’s probably the envy of many larger towns and cities around the world. What’s missing is a stable population of young to middle aged adults making a contribution by holding down responsible and reasonably well paid jobs doing productive work.

I could weep for the waste of opportunity – I know many people who’ve left – most look back fondly, but there’s nothing to bring them back. If only I could pull them all together and…

I used to live in this town. I don’t any more.

18. Every day express love. Some people need to hear it. Most people need to see it. Donít take it for granted.
31. Every day mend bridges, bury hatchets, say sorry and move on.
39. Every day trust that there is a bigger picture. You are a part of it even if you may not know what it is.

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