Today has been unusual weather wise in Dunedin.
I know that that is akin to saying "it's been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon" - however it is the first day when the cloud has hung low and yet the temperature has climbed high. Unpleasantly Muggy would be my way of describing it. Most Unrefreshing!
In the thick of this various appointments took me down and then back up the hill into the city and did cause me to muse on conversations shared and in particular a surprising pleasantness encountered. Not just today but generally. Folk are nice here. Back in 'the ol' country' things are once more turning unpleasantly sour with bishops falling out publicly over economics. Nick Baines (formerly and briefly my bishop) picks up on this debate here.
I only mention this because the language in which some of the debate has been couched is only too wearingly familiar. That of making sure that 'The Undeserving' (and of course we all know who They are . . .) must not be helped.
This language was So prevalent that I MUST record my surprise, indeed astonishment at the lack of suspicion of people in need (at least so far - and I have avoided reading the press here). That I have several times beenin situations where folk have had need and when it has come to light, there has not been a moments 'can you trust them?' - 'do you know who they are?' - 'Don't get taken in!' Rather, there is a lack of suspicion and all supermarkets have baskets where shoppers can deposit food for the various food banks in operation around the city.
I was wondering about this and perhaps it is because NZ is a less divided society economically than the UK. That those who have, do not live lives so very different from those who have not. I remember the first time I was shown 'a poorer area' and thinking that what was striking was that it wasn't strikingly different from the more wealthy suburbs. I saw no boarded up houses, horses walking in the road, burnt out cars - nor was I warned to watch out for drug needles on the pavements.
Time and time again less economically divided societies have been shown to be more pleasant to live in. (For solid statistical evidence of this, you might like to read The Spirit Level. ) Certainly there is no part of this city in which I have any sense of threat as I walk through it - it's all very nice - most refreshing. (and this being Dunedin, I'm sure the weather will be, tomorrow :) )