Must not hesitate to condemn, utterly, the evil

September 12, 2014

Brendan Boyle, Chief Executive, Ministry of Social Development spoke wise and compassionate words at the Ashburton Civic Service to remember Leigh Cleveland and Peggy Noble yesterday:

 

. . . Whenever people die at work, different communities of family, friends and colleagues are drawn together. We see different sides of people. Death illuminates the whole person.

The thoughts I have to share are about the work of Public Servants, such as Leigh Cleveland and Peggy Noble, and our injured colleague Lindy Curtis, whom I am pleased to say is making progress to the relief of her family, friends and colleagues.

New Zealand is a democracy, something for which many have given their lives.

Public servants rightly commit to implementing the policies of the elected government, under the law.

For all of us it is a job. For many – perhaps most of us – that job includes elements of a calling, a vocation, a commitment to others.

And so it was for Leigh Cleveland and Peggy Noble and Lindy Curtis at work last week.

In the Ministry of Social Development we say: “We will always be here to help people in need”.

Leigh and Peggy were at work, being there for people in need, when they lost their lives. Lindy was there for people in need when she was shot.

They were serving people directly by providing them with information, entitlements, and services.

They will not be forgotten. Family and friends will remember and mourn them with an intimate and personal insight.

Those of us who worked with them will remember their service to New Zealand.

Like our other staff, they came to work each day prepared to face the whole range of New Zealanders who seek our services and support.

Like our other staff Leigh and Peggy responded with firmness in implementing policy, with kindness in explanation, and with intelligence in seeking solutions to people’s problems.

You can’t work on our front desks without empathy, sympathy and commitment to people.

In marking this tragedy, let’s also mark the professionalism they showed on all the other, uneventful, days of their working lives.

All of us who are committed to public service can take pride that Leigh and Peggy were a part of us, and realise, in their loss, the importance of our own work and the public service itself.

It is an honour to be here with both families and to share your grief.

Our respect for Leigh and Peggy has been shown by government workers throughout New Zealand marking two minutes silence a week after the event and in many other ways.

It is shown in the expressions of concern for Lindy and for those affected emotionally by the experience.

Most of all, our respect is shown by our continued work – often difficult, and always challenging – to help New Zealanders to help themselves to be safe, strong and independent.

Those who do this work also need to be safe.

Their families should not have to fear that they will not return home at the end of the day.

In the days, weeks and years ahead we will continue to think about, and learn what we can from what happened.

I take my responsibility for this seriously.

I will be asking myself, over and over, what more could I have done?

I know others are doing the same thing, and that at times we feel as if we are searching in darkness.

I’ve heard it said that it is better “to light one candle than to curse the darkness”.  We are looking for those points of light, those things we can learn from what has happened.  

Every action we take so that in the future staff will be safer will be a tribute to Leigh, and Peggy, and all victims of this terrible act.

But while we look for lessons, we cannot ignore the darkness.

We must not hesitate to condemn, utterly, the evil that occurred in the Ashburton office that day.

We may in time learn to what extent it was a result of social conditions, or medical issues, or psychological processes, or an act of will, or all of these.

But the victims – those who have died and those who must live with these memories – bear no responsibility for what has happened.

By seeking concrete actions for the future we honour the victims, and we push back against the darkness.

Already, our people are reflecting on what has happened and, putting aside their shock and anger, concentrating on what this means for us and our relationship with clients.

We respect those who need our services.

I see indications that we will be stronger in our expectations of mutual respect.

We will not be less tolerant but we will be more willing clearly to say what cannot be tolerated.

In that process we will begin to restore and renew trust.

But today is about this moment and honouring two whose lives have been taken because they worked for others, and recognising all those wounded and harmed by this attack.

Today is about realising, in our shared grief and loss, the strength of that community and society we work to build.

And it is about our responsibility, even at this moment, to not back away from our commitment to serve New Zealanders.

Hat tip: Lindsay Mitchell


Awakening

September 12, 2014

It’s September 12th here in New Zealand, but still the 11th in the USA where they are remembering the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Brian Andreas wrote this to honour and mark the tragedy.

awakening StoryPeople print by Brian Andreas

Awakening – ©2014 Brian Andreas – posted with permission.

There were so many deaths then and so many since in all corners of the world which reinforce the need for and wonder of arms grown strong with love.

 


Two killed at WINZ office

September 1, 2014

Two people are dead and another seriously injured after being shot in the Ashburton WINZ office:

 

. . . A balaclava-clad man carrying a sawn-off shotgun entered the Work and Income office on the corner of Cass and Moore streets and fired several shots before fleeing on a bike.

The gunman was last seen heading towards the Ashburton river. Shots have reportedly been heard since coming from the river. 

A source told Fairfax Media that one person was shot dead on site and another died at Ashburton Hospital.

Police confirmed that two people had been killed and the third person was in hospital. . . .

This is firstly a tragedy for those who died, their family friends and workmates.

It is also a shock for the community and other public servants:

Ashburton District Mayor Angus McKay said he felt “weak at the knees” when he heard about the shooting at the town’s Work and Income office.

“Ashburton is not this kind of town,” he said.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett called it “an extreme situation and tragedy”, adding that all resources were going into looking after WINZ staff.

She was travelling down to the town this afternoon.

Public Service Association (PSA) said the shooting was a tragedy and nobody should go to work in fear that they might not return home. 

PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff said “Our thoughts are with all those affected by this tragedy,”

“We don’t know what the cause is, but we will be supporting our members from Ashburton Work and Income at this terrible time. . . .

This has already been used for political point scoring on Twitter.

It shouldn’t be.

No political views justify killing innocent people at work.

It’s a tragedy.


Richard Attenborough 29.8.23 – 24.8.14

August 25, 2014

British actor and film director Richard Attenborough has died.

 

Oscar-winning British film director Richard Attenborough has died at the age of 90, his son has said.

Lord Attenborough was one of Britain’s leading actors, before becoming a highly successful director.

In a career that spanned six decades, he appeared in films including Brighton Rock, World War Two prisoner of war thriller The Great Escape and later in dinosaur blockbuster Jurassic Park.

As a director he was perhaps best known for Gandhi, which won him two Oscars. . . .

 

 


Caring for the dying

August 19, 2014

Life is fatal.

Sooner or later we all die.

Most would choose for it to be later,  peaceful and pain-free.

But life and death aren’t always that well-ordered.

It isn’t easy watching someone we love die and not everyone is able to give their loved ones the care they need while dying.

This is where hospices come in.

They provide a very high standard of palliative care in their facilities and in the community for people who choose to die at home.

Their care is not just for the dying but for those who will survive them.

Hospices help the dying live well for as long as they can then help them die well without either prolonging or hastening the death.

The success of the work they do provides a very strong argument against euthanasia.

Theirs is difficult but essential service and the funding boost National has pledged will help hospices and their staff do more.

 

Hospices make a huge difference to people’s lives, so National will invest an extra $20 million a year so they can do even more of their important work. ntnl.org.nz/1kA7vLl #Working4NZ

We’ll invest in 60 new palliative care nurse specialist and educator roles to improve training and support across aged residential care, GP practices and home-based support services. ntnl.org.nz/1kA7vLl #Working4NZ


Robin Williams 21.7.51 – 11.814

August 12, 2014

Actor Robin Williams has died.

. . . According to his publicist, who confirmed the news, the actor had been battling depression of late and recently entered 12-step rehab stint for drug abuse.

His wife Susan Schneider said in a statement, “I am utterly heartbroken. On behalf of Robin’s family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin’s death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions…

How very sad that someone who moved so many with his performances and brought so much laughter to his many fans should have been plagued by, and succumbed to  depression.


MH 17

July 18, 2014

The deaths of nearly 300 people on Malaysian Airlines MH 17 is a tragedy.

It is worst for the family and friends of those who died.

It is also very bad for the airline although at this stage it appears the plane was shot down which is quite different from the mystery disappearance of MH 370.

We also need to remember this is a war zone where innocent people are killed every day.

 


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