Our Writers Expose Our Biases and Force Our Empathy
The 2021 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards was our sixth year as sponsor. After a thunderous Fidel Castro-length address from MC Jack Tame – 40,000 words or so according to some reports – Ockham captain Mark Todd delivered a succinct 213-word address. Subject: Dignity.
We’ve talked a lot in the past year about fostering kindness, an ethic of kindness, and that’s important - but what we’re not talking about is dignity, and what we have to do to allow everyone to live with dignity.
There are little humiliations, sometimes big humiliations, that break people down and make it hard for even the kindest hands to reach them.
Eliminating period poverty by distributing free products gives people dignity.
A programme of food in schools, so everyone eats breakfast and lunch, gives people dignity.
And housing people in world-class buildings that are beautiful and warm and safe, that enhance their communities and set a standard for the next buildings to meet, tells those people that they belong, they are welcome and cared for and valued, that their lives and their kids’ lives matter. Living somewhere they are proud to call home gives people dignity.
Our writers, our observers and reporters of people and place, understand this as well as anyone. They write about the ties that bind and how easily they are severed by carelessness or insensitivity. They expose our biases and force our empathy. They are not policymakers - usually - but they know how, when opportunity is freighted with expectation and belief, people will rise to it.