The Crusaders 39-24 loss to the Bulls at Orlando Stadium in Soweto last week is a worrying sign for the All Blacks, not because they lost, but because the comments made prior to and after the game provide further evidence that our commanders at the helm are no more aware of the inhibiters of performance in 2010 than they were in all but one of the World Cups staged since the competition began - refer to our October 2007 newsletter 'What went wrong?'
Even though the Crusaders field some of our most competent and experienced internationals, their inability to rise to the challenge suggests they lack the mental capacity to step up when they need to. Unfortunately it is becoming increasingly common for NZ teams to capitulate when under pressure i.e. crack, snap, give up or bow out (psychologically) and yet those responsible for their development appear none the wiser as to why this occurs.
Needless to say the question that will soon be answered is did Graham Henry and Co recognize this (mind-set) as the No 1 issue and find a way to improve it or did they once again fail to equip their athletes with the goods to excel at the mental game?
Bolstering the Economy
As New Zealand’s Minister of Finance, Bill English has like those before him, released a budget he and his fellow cabinet members believe will enable us to not only rebalance the books in order to improve our short term position, but perhaps more importantly, provide us with a better platform to advance as a nation.
While budgets and the ensuing debates that follow are important economically, they tend to say more about the state of a nation’s psyche than they do about its financial position.
If we were to indulge in this debate we will be unlikely to notice it. However if we take a step back we will observe something more interesting. For example, if one were to listen to comments from the left, one could be forgiven for thinking that they either have little comprehension of human behaviour (and therefore fail to understand how to incentivise a population) or no interest in supporting economic growth (which I do not believe is the case) but are instead consumed by their eternal pursuit of fighting for justice. While such a stance may appear noble to those they represent, their input offers little in the way of meaningful substance.
That said, my intention is not to incite conflict but rather to pose the question how can we advance as a nation if all we ever do is intensify our preoccupation with the pursuit of personal gain? How can we engage in an intelligent debate for the benefit of future generations if those who advocate on our behalf are consumed by isolated interests? How can we overcome the national impasse around social and economic policy if what we observe in the house is an indication of the maturity of politicians in this country?
The point is we must accept that we as a nation cannot win if some of us continue to fail i.e. if a large enough sector of society loses, we will all eventually lose. If we are serious about our future, we need to agree on a structure that enables everyone to succeed - providing we each take responsibility for doing so. The fact remains however that although there is a portion of society who through no fault of their own are unable to care for themselves, there is a growing number of people who see no reason as to why they should have to take responsibility for themselves and as a result expect others to do it for them. It is this third group who cause the greatest challenge and therefore the group we most need to change rather than criticise or defend.
One of the most honourable aspects of a civilised society is its willingness to care for the needy, however let’s not forget that our ability to uphold such a cause is reliant upon our prosperity. If we want to advance as a country, and therefore be in a position to support our most vulnerable, we need to move beyond the argument of fighting for what we deserve. If we are to experience a step change in society (which is what I believe we should be striving for), we must accept that we each have an equally vital role to play. Sadly however the media seems fixated on causing division rather than deepening our understanding. Unfortunately, even though we are supposedly advancing as a species, we seem incapable of assessing the value of our individual contribution. To argue that ‘we’ deserve the benefits or privileges of a first world nation but are not prepared to pay for them is nonsensical. If we aren’t prepared to pay for what we want, need or long for, who will?
To this end, I suggest we initiate an alternative discussion. For example, could we position a conversation that involves everyone whilst excluding no one? Could we engage in a debate that recognises everyone equally, irrespective of their age, ethnicity or capability? Could we overcome the appalling mind-set of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ - which after all, does nothing more than insult our intelligence and strip our humanity? Could we rekindle a past motto to give people a sense of purpose and ultimately a vehicle to prosperity?
John F Kennedy’s famous quote that epitomized his party’s New Frontier Initiatives programme ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country’ may resonate with those of an earlier generation but could it, or something like it, be reinstituted as a framework to help us engage in this debate?
If we look at the most disturbing issues in society, we will notice that most originate as a consequence of insecurity. Insecurity of course is symptomatic of a person’s sense of unworthiness. If we were willing to engage in a national debate along the lines of JFK’s catch cry, we may very well get to the essence of what ultimately matters (purpose). The problems so many of our younger people suffer from today are caused by a lack of purpose i.e. so many of our young, through dreadfully inadequate leadership and parenting come to believe there is no purpose in life meaning there is no appreciable reason to value their existence. Any person who entertains the idea that there is no reason for them to exist will not only fail to ‘appreciate’ life, they will inevitably question or even ‘compromise’ life.
If however we could offer them the opportunity to realise (and overtime come to believe) their life was important - not just to them, but to society as a whole, they may start to think differently. If they start to re-examine their life with a greater degree of interest, they will be more likely to gain a sense of purpose. If they come to believe there is a purpose for them, they will be more inclined to want to honour that purpose (to gain the recognition and thus sense of worthiness they long for) rather than expressing their disapproval of being devoid of purpose. If the purpose is appropriate, which it would be, we all gain. And if we all gain, then those amongst us who were previously failing (as a consequence of feeling marginalised), may take greater interest in enabling their off-spring to succeed rather than seeing them repeat their mistakes.
For this reason I propose that we reposition the idea in mainstream media that our success in life is governed by what we contribute, not what we gain.
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