All people have the right to live in peace and safety without persecution, oppression, victimisation or death.
It does not matter about differences as long as we can mutually respect each other.
We need to embrace diversity not fear it.
Let us look beyond nationality, race, religion, gender or orientation, and respect the person. Listen to each others stories without judgement or condemnation.
We, the free, need to stand up for the oppressed and the persecuted and let their voices be heard.
Let us free the oppressed.
Let us see the humanity.
Let us love the person.
Let there be peace.
Graphics created by Paul S Allen
©Paul S Allen 2014
How the unlovely, the broken and the disadvantaged are treated is the measure of society.
If you go behind all our masks, behind the tattoos, the makeup, the hair, the gender, the orientation, the religion or non-religion, you will meet a human. Someone who breathes the air, has blood in their veins, eats, rests, and generally lives from one routine to another.
We are all human.
My eyes were opened one day when a feared gang member stopped outside a food shop to buy his lunch. What I saw that day was a person, who probably ordered and paid for his favourite sandwich, and looked forward to eating it.
A man with a hunger, a need, a desire for something, normal, satisfying.
I got to know this man in a small way over a few years, I knew him as a person who looked out for his friends, he was a caring man, he tried to protect youth when needed. He shared with me his concerns about children playing in a derelict building site. He had a desire to improve his circumstances and of those around him.
He was also a gang member, he wore a patch, I am sure he had earned it in a way I did not want to know about. He was an outcast from “normal” society.
What I mainly saw was the man, a human.
A desire to change from someone with a less than “normal” past, whether that be criminal or other anti-social background (mental health especially has a stigma that people need to overcome) requires us to change our attitude, it requires us to get out of our comfort zone to reach out to the one wanting to change.
It means taking a risk.
Unless we are prepared to take a risk to reach out to others who are different from us how can we ever expect to improve our community.
To ostracize the unlovely, the broken and the disadvantaged is an indictment on the society we live in.
We need to be a community where forgiveness is a norm, where there is acceptance of the different, and where those wishing to and needing to change can find a place to do so and people who can help.
To love the unlovely is to love your fellow human. Something we are all called to do.
Paul S Allen
You the customer are under suspicion. Your actions require utmost control and under no circumstances can you enter our business with that item. We consider all people who enter our business as criminals intent on stealing our stuff. We do not care about you or your own care or safety.
This is the message I was given by the owner of a business today after I raised a concern about a policy the store has and the manner in which it was enforced.
What was the offense? My wife had a small hand bag with her.
The policy of the store was that no-one was able to enter the store with a bag (of any sort). We had the option of leaving the bag with a complete stranger at the counter in an insecure area or not go into the store.
Our greeting was not a friendly smile or even a simple “Hello” it was just “Bag please!” no option, no explanation.
After calling the store to question the policy and manner which we were treated, the owner phoned me back to explain that under no circumstances was anyone allowed in the store with a bag of any kind and that Prime Minister John Key and even the Queen would be asked to leave their bags at the counter.
When explaining that my wife has a health condition and the bag contains important contents, it was explained that we could take contents out of the bag and carry them with us. I suggested that it would be difficult to shop or browse while carrying things in our hands he said that was our problem.
I can accept the importance of store security and issues around shop theft, but the tone and treatment of the staff member and the arrogant attitude of the owner has left us never wanting to visit that shop again. We had the intention of making purchases on todays visit but we will not be going back to that establishment.
I will not name the store as I do not wish to advertise or promote its existence in any way. If anyone ever asks me for a recommendation about these types of shops I will not mention them at all and if questioned directly will explain our dissatisfaction.
One question I have about this “leave bag at counter” policy. If something goes missing or is damaged in the bag whose liability is it? For example if I leave my camera bag at the counter and someone drops a heavy item on it will the store pay the cost to repair or replace damaged items? What say someone gets given the wrong bag and it goes missing, who is liable?
The experience today has left us feeling angry and disappointed especially after the owner said it was our loss for not doing business with him. Actually it is his loss, we were going to spend money today at his shop and didn’t.
We will not be going back to that store again.