rambling again

March 20th, 2008

Something in this post by Poneke set my mind off on yet another tangent….

I was born the year Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong died. 1976, for those who don’t get the reference. Year of the Dragon, for those who need the Chinese calendar (May, so no, there’s no chance of me having snuck in at the tail-end of the Rabbit). So, as you can imagine, back when Lange’s Labour government passed the Anti-Nuclear legislation, back when France’s DGSE sank the Rainbow Warrior, I was very young. But I remember.

I remember widespread support for the Anti-Nuclear law and disgust with America for trying to bully us into submission.

I remember outrage at the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior. That was the only act of terrorism ever committed on New Zealand territory, and it was committed by the French government, against Greenpeace! Really, who could possibly consider a bunch of greenies such a threat that they need to be bombed?

Anyway, I may well have remembered some of the details wrong. I was very young at the time, remember. Most of my memories of the mid-eighties have more to do with the fuss over Halley’s Comet, the centenary of the Tarawera eruption, and pedalling my bike around Te Awamutu (where we lived for a year) than any politics. I can’t, off the top of my head, pin any of these things to a particular year.

And yet the Anti-Nuclear law and the Rainbow Warrior represent a kind of political awakening for me. I don’t know how that works, but those two things kind of woke me up to a world outside my books and my BMX, a world where people and governments debated (often violently) policies and -isms, where Big Things were happening.

I learned, the hard way, of course, to treat all politics and politicians with a very healthy degree of distrust. But looking back, I can’t say it’s any surprise how my own political leanings turned out, considering how they started.

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