“I do not write this in a spirit of sourness or personal disappointment of any kind, nor do I have any romantic attachment to suffering as a source of insight or virtue. On the contrary, I would like to see more smiles, more laughter, more hugs, more happiness and, better yet, joy. In my own vision of utopia, there is not only more comfort, and security for everyone — better jobs, health care, and so forth — there are also more parties, festivities, and opportunities for dancing in the streets. Once our basic material needs are met — in my utopia, anyway — life becomes a perpetual celebration in which everyone has a talent to contribute. But we cannot levitate ourselves into that blessed condition by wishing it. We need to brace ourselves for a struggle against terrifying obstacles, both of our own making and imposed by the natural world. And the first step is to recover from the mass delusion that is positive thinking.”
-- Barbara Ehrenreich, Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America

Talking about the increase in attempted suicides in Christchurch is apparently totally negative. According to people like Deon Swiggs of Rebuild Christchurch what the people want are happy stories...

THE ARTICLE ON THE GROWING NUMBER of attempted suicides in Christchurch appears to have touched a nerve with some people, especially the suggestion that the city's botched rebuild and the actions of the Christchurch City Council may of contributed to the increase in numbers of folk trying to kill themselves.

Several people decided they needed to personally abuse me, with a couple of those responses written by people who seem to be unfamiliar with the English language. So confident were they in their opinions that they chose to hide behind the cloak of anonymity. So as well as being intellectual cretins, they're cowards as well.

Personal abuse doesn't bother me. But what was sad about all the responses is that they were resentful that not only had I highlighted the growing number of attempted suicides but that I had dared to suggest that the botched rebuild might have something to do with that increase.

But that's not just my opinion - its the opinion of the good people who are who doing their best in difficult circumstances to help people who have come to the end of their tether.

In all the responses to my post sympathy was absent for those people who have attempted suicide. There was zero recognition of the enormous stress that many people are obviously under. There was entirely no understanding that measures like hiking up the rates might just be enough to send some people over the edge.

 Instead I was accused of not being 'positive' about the rebuild and that my criticisms were merely the reflections of a cynical/tired/unhappy person. They forgot to mention that I also support Newcastle United. It's the old story of 'I don't like the message, so I'll attack the messenger instead'.

None of these facile responses appear on the blog. I'm pretty tolerant of most things, but straight out abuse that avoids talking about the real issues is best dispatched to the cyber dustbin where it belongs. It's amazing that my critics obviously assumed I would publish their vitriol. It’s also not occurred to them that they preach a positivity that is nasty and intolerant.

Meanwhile, over on Twitter, the website Rebuild Christchurch, also tweeted that rather than talking about attempted suicides, I also needed to be 'positive' about the rebuild.

According to Rebuild Christchurch its audience "wants to explore and read relevant post topics on new, different or better ways to experience Christchurch.'

Which apparently rules out any criticism of the Christchurch City City's decision to flog off its assets. Or the massive rates hike. Or the continued neglect of the eastern suburbs. And we certainly don't want to talk about the increase in attempted suicides.

The founder of the website is Deon Swiggs. He used to have cosy chats about the rebuild with Chris Lynch, another purveyor of 'positivity', on local television channel CTV - until the new owners of CTV decided that Lynch's services were no longer required.

Swiggs though continued to pop up on Chris Lynch's show on Newstalk ZB throughout 2015, where he talked, to quote the radio station , 'about the positive things happening around the city'.

A past sponsor of Rebuild Christchurch is Southern Response - an insurance company that certainly hasn't provided any 'positivity' for a lot of Christchurch folk. While Rebuild Christchurch describes Southern Response as a 'past sponsor', its logo is still on its website.

Swiggs made a bid to be Labour's candidate in Christchurch East, the seat vacated by Lianne Dalziel. Swiggs declared that Dalziel had been 'an amazing MP'. He also thinks she's doing an excellent job as mayor as well and obviously doesn't like anyone to suggest otherwise. That's just not being 'positive'...


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