Sorry

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These past couple of days have been filled with a lot of “sorry’s” from different people. Just yesterday the PM, top spy and Police Commissioner all apologised to the Muslim community for their offices failings that led to a massacre as people prayed. That harrowing thought of being on bended knee in prayer, then shot dead is inconceivable. But it happened in our homeland, and maybe the 800-page report will give insight into why there were so many apologies yesterday. Like how our national security intelligence officers were focused on Islamic movements, while white supremacist groups went unnoticed. Like how there’s a lack of diversity in public service leadership positions and their community engagement processes are lightweight.

Sorry.

Following the massacre, the Police established armed response teams citing NZ had entered a new era of policing requirements. The equivalent of SWAT movie cops in dark-tinted SUV’s from the armed offenders squad would now be patrolling our roads to react decisively to high pressure criminal activities on the streets. With armed police stationed at the gate of every mosque in the country this would enhance community policing measures. It was rolled out in Christchurch. And Hamilton. And south Auckland. Sorry? That’s right, Hamilton and south Auckland. Close out data showed that over their 6 month pilot period these Police teams kept poor records and spent more time stopping traffic than dealing to high pressured situations, more suited to a an armed offenders squad call out.

Sorry.

There’s something extremely powerful in the expression of that word when made with sincerity. I’ve sat in a number of employment meetings as a support person and advocate for employees who’ve been mistreated or misunderstood by their seniors. These meetings are emotionally charged and draining for employees because when you’re on the lowest wrung in the organisation, you have no doubt as to who holds the power. People lose sleep, stop eating and struggle to mentally get thru each hour of the day, totally stressed out by the possibility of losing their jobs that provide income desperately needed for their families. A genuine and sincere sorry from a manager or representative from the organisation, is the first of a number of steps towards restoring and strengthening the working relationship.

Sorry.

One of the hardest things to do in life is admit you’re mistaken, apologise and seek to repair and restore a relationship. Over the years my observation has been people have resorted to saying sorry without any sincerity because it quickly cuts off your opportunity to talk through the pain and impact of what they’ve done to you. Today’s contemporary sorry means that reparation need not be sought because sorry is enough. NZ’s top spy said it was a misconception that they were focused only on Muslim activity and noted her agency is a small organisation. So I guess as a team you’d prioritise your work because there’s so few resources and focus on high priority areas. Now that makes sense I reckon… so it’s hard to be persuaded by her statement. Nonetheless, she did say sorry. There’s that wonderful word again.

Sorry.

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We’ll see how the Crown goes with the 40-plus recommendations in the report as that might help our nation heal, but I’m not that enthusiastic because racism and unconscious bias have been prevalent in the systems that failed us in the first place. The new system and approach must be developed by those who recognise and have experienced the very prejudice needing to be dismantled from the old system. The conversations will be uncomfortable, sobering and brutal, but they desperately needed now. Tracy Chapman sings apt lyrics for this time – words (followed by actions) like sorry, forgive me and I love you don’t come easily.

6 COMMENTS

  1. “Soz” from the state snoops and the coppers? I don’t think so.

    What they will be genuinely sorry about, is being exposed once again-in this extreme case-for what creeps, elitists, and racists, they are in essence and practice every day of the year.

  2. Good post EC.
    Unfortunately, the sorry is more often than not a “Soz Peeps, we’ll do better, I promise” until NEXT

    Politicians and senior civil servants wonder why the rise of the loony right, conspiracy theories and loss of confidence in government agencies ……………

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/2018776541/chch-mosque-attacks-security-bosses-should-lose-jobs-expert
    > Aw soz people – we’ll schedule a war room and flip a few coins to decide which positions need shuffling around. Whoever gets the most Queen’s heads can lead the new agency.

    Various government agencies use Thompson and Clarke to spy on citizens (they could possibly be a threat to their agendas)
    > Aw soz people – we didn’t think you’d mind because we only had your best interests at heart

    Seclusion, restraint practices used too often during detention, particularly on women and Māori, [HRC] report finds
    ( https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/seclusion-restraint-practices-used-too-often-during-detention-particularly-women-and-m-ori-report-finds )
    > Aw soz people – but we really really are trying to protect you from those sorts of people

    MBIE/INZ takes, and banks visa application fees but doesn’t process applications
    > Aw soz people – but it’s legal! We made sure of it and we’ve pocketed the money, assigned to the correct cost centre.

    Ombudsman faces difficulty gaining access to prisons for inspection
    > Aw soz people – but who the hell does he think he is anyway!

    Up to 40% of immigration decisions are wrong (even IF that figure might be slightly suspect or have a reasoable explanation)
    > Aw soz people – but it keeps a number of ticket clippers in gainful employment, allows us to keep kicking cans down the road, collect more fees, and evenly balance our In, Pending and Out trays. Besides, we can’t let those genuine immigration advisors and lawyers get swollen heads. Some of them might even be better at doing our jobs than we are.

    “We’ve got enough Labour Inspectors” (2017) so worker exploitation must be under control
    > Aw soz people – but now I’ve had an epiphany and we’re making headway in this space going forward

    Policy Analysts recognise various structural shortcomings, conflicts of interest and ways for improvement
    > Aw soz people – but most of them are down the pecking order anyway, or they’re emotional staffers and we’ve arranged to keep them away from the Minister in future so he doesn’t have the worry of it all.

    Politicians decide demographic profiling using spreadsheets and basic algorthms is not a good look
    > Aw soz people – but its really really not racist, honest it isn’t and we’ve arranged for various promotions into positions more relevant to the designer’s core competencies to ensure Ministers can’t be embarrassed in future – no surprises

    Ministry ‘manages out’ an official referring to people as SCUM on social media
    > Aw soz people – but we conducted a thorough investigation and found none of his colleagues had any indication he might be a racist Neanderthal. In fact they assured us he only had a bit of unconsious bias and that some of that scum did have a slight brown tinge to them with funny shaped craniums. And all of them were only ripping off their own anyway. We’ll see if the Minister is open to a few dawn raids with a Reality TV camera crew in tow to put your minds at rest.

    Obfuscation and delays increasingly the norm when processing OIA requests
    > Aw soz people – but we really do know what you need to know and what time you need to know it

    etc., etc., etc., etc.

    Let us assure Helen that it isn’t JUST about public service “lack of capacity”. It’s become religiously, managerially cultural with the processes and procedures now often more important than what they’re intended to do. Serving the public doesn’t enter into it. Assimilate into our normality bugger it or face the consequences!
    But then when you’re in the jungle it can be bloody hard to see the trees

  3. Why does it take a Royal Commission Report before these organisations say sorry? What about before the report came out? Oh, that’s right – let’s not put our hands up and say sorry just in case we don’t have to and then we can carry on as before.

    The most insincere one was from that Kitteridge woman who said sorry because her organisation, the SIS, under her control and direction, focussed on the Muslim community in New Zealand as being terrorists. The SIS deliberately targeted the Muslim community and now, after the brutal and horrific massacre of good decent Muslim New Zealanders, they say sorry. How insulting to and demeaning of the Muslim community in New Zealand is that? It’s like, we can justify going hard-out on you for years because we think you are all terrorists, but wait, the Royal Commission Report has highlighted stuff that we never, ever thought about or cared to think about – that just maybe you are not terrorists – so lets say sorry about that, but we will continue our surveillance of you anyway. I sneered at Kitteridge when she put on what she thought was a sincere face to deliver what she tried to present as a sincere apology.

    Sadly, there will still be those unintelligent, uneducated haters in our society, generally older white angry self-entitled males (I was going to say men but they are not real men) who will still label our New Zealand Muslim community and all Muslims as terrorists. These people are the truly ugly face of racial and religious hatred in our society.

  4. No sorry for the survivors of Aramoana massacre, and the trauma of another mass killing brought in their lives.

    No sorry from the Dunedin police who right royally mucked it up.

    No sorry from the Australian spy agencies who let this nut roam the globe and engage with other far right nut bags. Then said nothing, not a God Damn thing.

    And

    No sorry from the people who sold the weapons and ammunition to the mass murderer. Mainly because irony is a hard, hard, task master – and no one would have been able to swallow that one.

    • “ No sorry from the Dunedin police who right royally mucked it up. “ I’d be interested to know how the Dunedin police “ mucked up” the Aramoana tragedy. Thanks.

  5. No sorry from David Seymour for the only party not supporting gun regulation and in fact promoting it , whereby gun use has surged since Seymour publicly and vote scored on it.

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