Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Guest Week Day Three: Gen on Voting and His- or Her- Story

Gen may or may not be the glamorous singer and front-woman for international pop idols "Gen and the Holograms." We can neither confirm nor deny this, but the fact that they have never been photographed in the same place at the same time is telling.

When not duelling with the Misfits in the charts, Gen does freelance web design. Having recently returned from living in Australia, Gen has strong feelings about why she voted, and how.

     Voting makes me feel like I’m a part of something bigger than me, my life and I. In all honesty I get a buzz from the experience. I enjoy the tiny bit of power I’m given every three years and I take it very seriously. It has always baffled me that so many people choose not to have a voice when it comes to the direction of our country - particularly when we live in such a tiny nation that has in the past made such big political stands that many of us are so fiercely proud of.

Members of the Campaign Against Nuclear Warships (CANWAR) stand aboard the yacht Phoenix in Wellington Harbour while awaiting the arrival of the USS Longbeach in 1976.

     Perhaps it comes from the commonly held belief that the opposing sides here are considerably less condensed than in other countries, so there is less fear of ending up with  a possibly powerful and dangerous leadership. I think it mostly comes from our attitude towards politics which I never noticed until I moved overseas. We seem to believe that unless the decisions made in government directly (and strongly) effect us, that it isn’t our responsibility, a sort of “baggs not me” situation for the adults. In France, I met teenagers who spoke candidly about politics, protested passionately and were fully encouraged to speak their minds from a very young age. Why is it so different here?

     We seem to be missing that vibrant excitement here. Politics is a topic we tend to tip-toe around with in New Zealand, or else we take it as a personal attack on each other. There is very little encouragement for respectful yet passionate discussion and exploration of the issues that effect many of us more than we seem to want to believe. I’ve noticed that for many New Zealanders the topic of politics is banned, ignored (because it’s “none of your business who I vote for or what I stand for”) or it’s just too much effort to bother getting into. 

     It’s the apathetic ones that disappoint me the most. I’m not sure how or why these attitudes have become so prominent in our society but it’s incredibly disappointing to see. Maybe I’m completely wrong but I think that if half of those people actually bothered to remove their heads from their arses, researched their government, gave a damn and voted, they’d see that it could have a surprisingly positive effect on them, their country and their families.  

     We have been gifted the incredible right to vote - if it was taken away tomorrow perhaps we’d realise the importance of exercising that right. I feel so lucky that my parents believed so strongly in creating a safe, non-judgmental environment to find our own voices and use them without fear or censorship. 

     As far as I’m concerned I had the social responsibility to vote and I did. The choice wasn’t whether to vote, it was who to vote for. Since when did walking to your nearest school, ticking two boxes and walking home become such a fucking imposition to so many?

For further reading, and for the source of the image, please see  NZ History.Net.NZ, specifically this series of short and sweet recaps of a turbulent time in our recent history.