I’ve always believed that public holidays should be mandatory.
It’s not that I really care about the Queen today as we celebrate her birthday, which isn’t her birthday, it’s that I care deeply about the need for us all to put down tools as citizens on specific days and all of us venture out into our amazing public spaces and be friendly with one another.
The importance of our civility in public towards one another, the importance of being tolerant of each other while sharing the same space and the importance to actually stop working and enjoy doing nothing but spend time with our family, friends and whanau would do more to building that sense of nationhood that we are always jealously eyeing Australia up for than any other thing.
The maternity section of a public hospital is amazing. This special place where life is birthed is shared by many different cultures, religions and ethnicities. Whenever I go there I sense the respect everyone gives to the space and to each other.
We need more of that in NZ.
As citizens, we have earned the right to have days off, and we need to hold onto this right and understand it is the universal application that is so important. It’s the need to share our beaches and out door spaces together on these days that builds bonds between families and groups of people who would never otherwise meet in their busy 9-5, 5-9 plus the odd late shift lives.
For those public servants forced to work while the rest of us play, the media should be full of ‘spare a thought for’ type stories so that our public servants who must continue to staff essential services while the rest of us relax are given the respect and admiration they deserve for their selfless functions.
I would even go as far as demanding a new holiday – New Zealand Volunteers day. The idea being that there is one day a year we all universally have off to help volunteer in society all on the same day. It could be a mass planting, or cleaning up, or helping reach out to the elderly or migrant communities or anyone whose a bit different so we can all feel included. Or a thousand different other things.
That sense of self identity and nationhood that we always whine about not being present during Waitangi Day takes effort and can’t simply be left up to the ‘free market’. The space where that national identity can take shape has to be universally applied in the form of mandatory public holidays and not left to be traded in by unscrupulous employers who if given half a chance would make ‘Hi Ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go’ the new National anthem.
The thousands of different interactions generated by us all respectfully sharing the same space together on set days would do more for our understanding of each other than a million cartoons by Al Nisbet ever could.
What is the point of being a citizen in a democracy if we can’t enjoy the leisure of spending time outside in this glorious country? Are we really all wage slaves? Is that what a modern democracy has been denigrated too?
I have a dream to work every hour of the day by a boss who is screwing me over isn’t particularly inspirational is it?
So take today off. Share it with your family and loved ones outside where others are doing the same. If you can’t take the day off because you work in one of our emergency services – my respects to you.
Happy Queens Birthday-who-wasn’t-really-born-on-this-day Day New Zealand. You deserve a day off.