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August 13, 2012 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Things You Already Know But Just Need To Be Told


I need you to take a moment to understand the complexity of things. This is the Te Ao Marama issue of Salient and if the student body of this fine institution reacts to it as they normally do Asher and Ollie, chief dude-bros of this organ of student opinion, are about to be inundated with letters from you about how angry or offended or annoyed you were by the bulk of the issue being in Te Reo.

Last year, when I shared the sideways cap of Salient control, my co-editor and I made a stand and refused to publish any of the letters complaining about the Te Reo content not also being available in English. You get 24 issues in English, it only seems fair for there to be one in New Zealand’s other written official language, was our thinking. We were not usually very fervent censors; the printed letter that accused us of being pro-rape being perhaps the best example, so, it wasn’t an easy decision to make.

The reason we didn’t print those letters was because, well, first; it’s basically hate speech and nobody wants to see that shit, and, second, we, or at least I, genuinely believed that the people who wrote those letters would, sooner or later, regret them. A lot of the correspondents seemed young, if their spelling and irrational senses of entitlement were anything to go by, and I want to believe that one day they will realise the error of their ways. They will realise that maybe the world doesn’t revolve around them, slights to them, little specks of grit in their lives, like, for instance, having to forego the delightful Salient features section for one week, are not really worthy of their ire. With age comes self- awareness and with self-awareness hopefully comes perspective and, hopefully in the case of these letter writers, profound shame. They need to realise, just as you need to realise— albeit on a smaller scale—that their personal experiential narratives of the world are not universal and many of your assumptions and annoyances are trivial and best repressed within your leathery carapace of a skull.

Okay, let’s look at this a different way. You love to gossip about other people. Don’t worry. Don’t be ashamed of it. Everyone does it. You love making assumptions about other people and how they are behind closed doors. It’s fun. Judging people when they seem to do wrong or err or hurt someone else is great and allows you to delude yourself into thinking you have some kind of a grip on your nervous fishing-line tangle of a life. But what happens when you find out about other people’s assumptions, judgements and issues with your life? Little is more offensive. Most of the time they’re just wrong, and that is enraging. How dare people boil the cats cradle of your existence down to a rubber band ball of log line aphorisms? Don’t they understand how hard and complex it is to be you? Sure you maybe did those things, but the circumstances, the context changed everything.

Those people who are cutting your heart into chewed bubblegum strips of ouch are making the same mistake as the anti-Te Ao letter writers. They are ignoring the fact that the truth resists simplicity, that their perspectives are irreparably incomplete, they are imposing the assumed totality of their views on the world and all that can achieve is damage and band-aided feelings. Well, that and seeming quite a bit racist in the letter pages. Trying to think and consider other people’s angles on any given situation is hard but it is something that needs to be practised. And once you’ve mastered that, you’re going to have to move on to considering the possibility that maybe your opinions are wrong. The counts just as much for going around bad mouthing someone for something they did as it does for whining because God forbid the native people of this country be allowed a platform to communicate—whether you can understand them or not.


About the Author ()

Uther was one of the two arts editors in 2009. He was the horoscopier and theatre writer in 2010. Alongside Elle Hunt, Uther was coeditor in 2011.

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