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OPINION: The season of change is coming

Saturday 19 December 2020 | Written by Thomas Tarurongo Wynne | Published in Editorials, Opinion

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OPINION: The season of change is coming
Parliament of the Cook Islands.

We should be concerned with the sound of good capable people resigning and leaving our shores not to return, and of the call for us all to tighten our belts, while the few fill their bellies, writes Thomas Wynne.

I remember waking up in the paradise that is Aitutaki, ready to explore the wonders of its lagoon, culture and people. Moving onto the deck of our new home in 2015 and saying ‘kia orana’ to our new neighbours, Papa Toma and Aunty Kura Marsters, it suddenly dawned on my ears, this din of a sound, as if engines were turning over.

I hadn’t noticed the noise a few weeks earlier when we secured the house but now it was clearly humming in the background.

Asking Uncle Toma, about the sound I said, “Uncle, when do those turn off?”. “Turn off?” he said looking at me with a broad smile, “those are the engines for the power, they never turn off”.

And with that, the hum of turbine engines played all day every day, and over time, I soon forgot their constant grind, their noise fading into the background of everyday life, present, but no longer present, and just absorbed into the experience of living where we were.

It’s not that the noise changed, instead I just became so used to it I no longer heard it anymore.

In life we can become accustomed, to the noise, to so many things that pull on our attention or simply those things that shout at us every day.

For husbands and partners, how many times do we become deafened to the sound of our children’s or partner’s voices. Not that they become any quieter, we just don’t hear it anymore.

Even that inner voice that speaks to us can be deafened by continued bad choices or by just ignoring that inner voice until we no longer hear it any more.

It’s not that it stopped talking to us, we just turned our heart and conscience away from its direction and we become deaf to its inner calling to do the right thing.

Arriving home again, my ears are fresh to the sounds that maybe I deafened to in the past and this week has been full of meeting and greeting, conversations, short and sweet and some deeper and more meaningful.

And like that first time, hearing the engines of the power plant in Aitutaki, I can hear a fresh the sounds of joy and of being Covid free, alongside the sounds of despair and disappointment, the sound of near hopelessness, and the sound of maybe not being able to effect real and meaningful change.

I heard the sound of aroa and kindness seeing again so many that were caught in New Zealand in the lockdown, and the sound of reuniting again but this time without barriers or fear of Covid-19 or of being in quarantine and the challenges that season brought.

But of all the sounds I have heard this past week, the sound of despair is the one that challenges me most. The sound of hopelessness that corruption across so many sectors brings, and that sense that we cannot speak or rally against it – for to speak up is to be ostracised, to have one’s employment threatened, or any future employment met with rejection time and time again.

As a nation, we should be greatly concerned and listening afresh for the sound of nepotism, the sound of people gaining position not because of capacity but to preserve relationships and privilege of the few.

We should be concerned with the sound of good capable people resigning and leaving our shores not to return, and of the call for us all to tighten our belts, while the few fill their bellies with yet more and more that the public purse has on offer, be it our families, in business, in our churches, the private sector or the public.

But fear not, and do not let it grip your heart, because change is coming, and if you listen you can hear it in the wind, over and above the sounds of despair and hopelessness.

And like the wind of change, it starts as a whisper, and builds slowly but surely into a wind that no one, no church or government can stop.

History is littered with the stories of those who held onto power as if it was theirs to keep only to find it slip from their hands because the winds of change had literally blown it from their grasp.

If you listen, you will hear the winds of change because they are blowing, I can hear them, as can others, and gentle as they may be, the inevitability of change, is as certain as the wind that turns and blows our way and as certain as hurricanes and cyclones, beat our shores in December.

The season of change is coming.