Driving my aunty around this morning to get forms filled out, and then to do some shopping, I asked her what it was like being a widow here in Rarotonga.
It’s lonely she
said to me, and there is little help for us, I often feel on my own and find it
difficult to ask for help let alone get help.
I wondered how
many other Mamas and Papas, faced an uncertain day, let alone an uncertain and
lonely future, unable to move freely, unable to have the help they need and
unable to feel the love and support of family, something we pride ourselves on
as Māori in the Cook Islands, but has our society changed and not for the good.
I saw in the supermarket, who is disabled now due to an accident, was making
his way through the aisles, I could see the struggle on his face as we spoke,
reaching out his only mobile hand, struggling as he walked up the aisles,
foraging through what he could and could not afford for the meal ahead.
some time over the last few weeks down at the Creative Centre, I wondered then
as I do now, how do we support those vulnerable and disabled in our
communities, or has our society become so changed by outside influences, we no
longer see them anymore.
A society is not
judged by how it treats the wealthy, the privileged or those who live a life we
could envy and wish for.
By the amount of
super expensive trucks and four wheel drives on the island, the traffic in the
mornings, the swimming pools and beach front or inland villas, there are those
doing very well out of the economy and those that I met today, that are not.
are always divided by the haves and the have nots, but here, in such a small
community we live next door to them, they are sometimes members of our own
families and in the end they are all our people, rich or poor, disabled or
able, old or young.
If a society is
as Mahatma Gandhi said - measured by how it treats its weakest members or
as the young Apostle James said in his letter - Religion that God our Father
accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in
their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world, then how
do we measure up.
Religion that is
acceptable to God, as we celebrate two hundred years of the Gospel of good news
being in the Cook Islands is measured not by white Sundays, church attendance,
or how beautiful our church buildings look and feel. Instead James commands us
to look after the orphans and to take care of widows in their distress, and
then to manage the affect this world can have upon our hearts.
And maybe it is in this order because the
pollution of this world can creep slowly into our hearts when we don’t look
after the orphans, those children that need our love care and support, or look after the distress of those who have
lost their support and loved one and are left to fend for themselves, and
instead celebrate and look after the privileged, the wealthy, and those with
status and prestige.
'Kāore te kumara e kōrero mō tōna ake reka
compels us to not sing our own praises but to let others do it if at all. So
often I hear and have said, we as a country punch well above our weight or
comments like that. I wonder if widows in the backroad, sleeping on a mattress
with noodles for dinner and no running water, or children left to fend for
themselves, or the disabled say just how well we re punching. And as we celebrate
200 years of the Gospel arriving to the Cook Islands my question is simply
this. When it is the good news for all is it then something we can celebrate,
or for just the few, because true religion as James pointed out includes us all,
with no one left behind.