“In New Zealand, you can live with dignity.”

Hurricane hit Zhuhai China on 23th August. One of videos caused widespread concern.

“Eventually, a strong gust of wind swept the man to the ground.

The truck tumbled and fell onto him. May he rest in peace?”

When a friend from mainland China first sent me this footage, my first impression of the man in the video was his lack of rationality.

The friend asked, “In New Zealand, you might know what poverty looks like. But do you know what a lack of morality looks like?”

The fact that these words were coming from such an elegant, sophisticated person, shocked me.

However, her next words rendered me speechless.

“Some people live very hard lives. Not necessarily driven by poverty, but by a sense of fear. Fear for losing things, and fear for the future. And with such fear, drives a life of desperation and a lack of dignity.

The friend said, “The majority of people here all risk their lives just to hold onto a truck.”
But there is always misfortune behind each tragedy.

The man who tried to protect his car from the wild, vicious wind, was in no doubt, courageous. However, to me, his actions also revealed a sense of desperation.

Regardless of his financial status, he was merely attempting to protect his assets. For many of us, that is purely a reflexive instinct.

That reveals the motto of many of us: “We should seek our goals and chase after them without a moment of rest.”

Despite risking our lives, we stubbornly persist on a path of materialism like the man in the video. We work around the clock to with the end goal of obtaining tangible objects. We fear for setbacks and being inferior to others, in a highly competitive society. We neglect to rest in our single-mindedness to pursue our dreams.

There is a saying that goes, “The most unfortunate aspect of poverty is that everything seems to be worth more than your own life. Everything seems worthy to be fought for, like our lives depend on it.”

“Indeed. In China, everyone has their own valuable object. Too many of us identify with the man holding onto his truck.”

We are fighting so hard to keep them, hoping to have something to hang onto in the case of an emergency. At times, our ‘trucks’ have been safely tucked in our hands but we still refuse to loosen our grip. This is simply because we are so accustomed to the mentality of working hard under a tense environment.

Perhaps many of us lead standard, comfortable lifestyles. Yet we still panic internally for the future, for the day when poverty will be set upon us when our possessions are plucked from our hands.

Many of us fail to realise that the safety harness we rely upon, can end up being the truck that crushes us like it did to the man. The sense of security provided by our tangible possessions can be gone in any moment, leaving us helpless and aimless.

“Being in New Zealand, you would know what a substandard lifestyle looks like. But you might not know what it’s like to live without dignity.”

“In New Zealand, you can live with dignity.”

I have forwarded the video to one of my friends who has been in New Zealand for few years.

Following this, he shared many personal experiences with me. Upon arriving in NZ, he and his wife struggled to set up a business and adjust to local culture. Fortunately, they soon made friends from an English course they took. They suggested to my friend that he should apply for a student allowance.

The application process initially appeared quite complex, with documents and signatures needed for verification purposes. It was especially difficult as English was not his first language. During the process, he almost gave up. Regardless, he still submitted the application and read through the documents thoroughly.

To his surprise, the allowance came down quite quickly. In addition, Studylink suggested that his wife might also be entitled to an allowance. The letter from Studylink also recommended his children to apply for allowance from Work and Income.

“At that moment, I was in awe. I realised how different New Zealand society was from Chinese society. It completely changed my perception of societal structure and organisation. Despite its flaws, New Zealand exemplifies a normal society where people support one another. There are, of course, people who are less privileged in every country. But there are standards and system to ensure the survival of its citizens. From where I came from, the fear of losing your job, your house, your life and your future is so immense, that you hardly give a second thought to dignity, contribution and societal integrity.”

“Perhaps there are still some flaws in our New Zealand society, that I am yet to be aware of. There is bound to be controversies on top of flaws. But I am no longer anxious about falling into poverty, or having no one to rely on when I retire.”

The student allowance we received previously has saved us in a time of crisis. Currently, the taxes from my business has exceeded the student allowance by a hundred times. This sum, I believe, will be used to support others in our society. Personally, this cycle of giving and receiving seems to be a much healthier social norm. People here feel a sense of security and are more willing to contribute.’

From World.nzlife.nz

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