This year politics has become ever more prominent. People have realised the true impact of political decisions on their everyday lives. After a turbulent, ever-changing year, political differences and grievances have fractured and split many personal relationships in a way that has not been previously prevalent in New Zealand society.
Unlike the United States, we are not known for our strong partisan politics and political fervour that can lead to tension and division.
The peace and stability of our nation, and ability to maintain respect amidst difference has set us apart on the global stage (although also acknowledging that at times this can be mixed with political apathy). However, this unique national characteristic has started to show its cracks in 2021.
In this regard, I think we can learn from the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy who said: “Peace does not rest in the charters and covenants alone. It lies in the hearts and minds of all people. So let us not rest all our hopes on parchment and on paper, let us strive to build peace, a desire for peace, a willingness to work for peace in the hearts and minds of all of our people”.
It is a sign of a healthy democracy to have different political beliefs and policy approaches. However, political differences should not hinder the peace of our hearts and minds.
As we head into Christmas, let’s try and not let the Covid grinch steal the special season! As we approach Christmas Day, let’s not allow Covid to hinder the relationship with ‘Uncle Dave’, or get in the way of that family member’s Christmas dinner invite. Rather, let’s maintain a spirit of healthy respectful discussion and debate, and love our whānau and friends for who they are, regardless of their politics.
Dinner menu-wise, alongside a sprinkle of thyme on the turkey, we may just need to sprinkle extra grace on our relationships. And alongside the cranberry sauce, a side of compassion will be a good condiment to what has been a challenging, stressful and anxious year – for those who have lost jobs, whose businesses have dipped and where family life has been a struggle and a juggle.
Hibiscus Coast whānau, may you have a very merry Christmas filled with peace, joy and the hope of the season.
Tis the season to be in unison – the season of peace.