Richard Palmer: ‘Put yourself in their shoes’

Friday September 04, 2020 Published in Letters to the Editor

I understand these are tough financial times. But there’s no need to shame our guest workers. It’s not their fault that there’s no work or that it’s hard to travel back to their home countries.

Te ta akama i te manuiri, kare te reira i te peu Maori, e te peu Keresetiano. The message of this article sounds very similar to the right wing/white supremacist slogans directed at our people on the benefit in New Zealand. Definitely not the Cook Island Maori way. I am embarrassed that a hate-mongering piece like this got published in a Cook Islands newspaper.

As Dale Carnegie would put it, if you want to criticise someone, begin with a compliment and allow them to save face.

As an Aitutakian, I can tell you we already knew this rule – well before Carnegie put it down in writing.

It’s how the message was worded, is the problem.

Foreigners receiving subsidies and the old people suffering hardship are not mutually exclusive outcomes i.e. the old people are not going to suffer more because the manuiri workers are receiving subsidies.

Put yourself in their shoes. You’re a hard worker, not lazy, that’s why you were hired.

Now there’s no work. Not your fault. You have no ties, family, local connections and influence except for your employer and the few friends you may have acquired.

You’ve inquired about going home but flights are hard to come by. The financial subsidy is the only or one of the few supports you have and for which you are grateful. You’re feeling the financial stress. Perhaps your feeling self-conscious too, maybe even ashamed, of being a “bludger”.

Richard Palmer

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