She’ll be right
It is a favourite New Zealand and Australian phrase. Normally used to mean everything is going to be alright, “she’ll be right” it has long been a commonly used by people in an optimistic or apathetic tense to dispel what might be perceived as unjustified concern about something. But after the White Island eruption, people are asking whether we are too casual in our outlook and understanding of risk. Has the time come to rein in our laid back attitude to safety and well being?
I have long been concerned about this attitude. In fact it was the primary inspiration for the name of this blog. I wanted an attitude or something else that would have a definitive aspect of New Zealand culture in it, something catchy or likely to make people stop and think about the purpose of the blog.
We have long been too casual in many respects in my opinion when it comes to a whole range of issues. From racism towards new arrivals in New Zealand to how we prepare for natural disasters; from understanding how our constitutional framework operates to whether we are serious about ending poverty in this country – underlying the ad hoc efforts made by successive governments with no real idea about what they need to do or the rationale for those steps is a deep seated undercurrent of “she’ll be right”, that New Zealanders ought to stop worrying.
New Zealand was found to be short on mining expertise, proper enforceable regulations to ensure that due monitoring is carried out. The Royal Commission found a host of problems, many of which could be linked to years of mismanagement that had given rise to a culture of unaccountability, dollars being more important than humans. Nine years later though I am not sure how much attention has been paid to making sure the recommendations are being followed through. Was this the “she’ll be right” attitude kicking in because people just wanted it to come to a close, or because they genuinely honestly things had come to a close?
Then we had the Christchurch earthquakes. Buildings that were meant to have been evacuated following the Boxing Day 2010 aftershock or earlier events, collapsed killing people devastating families and prompting ourselves to undergo an examination of how we address such events. Both the authorities and land lords were found to have short comings. But nearly 9 years on because the apathy strand of our “she’ll be right” attitude is still carrying influence, slowly eroding the meaningful progress. Some people it turns out just do not want systemic changes to happen.
So, I am calling it out for what it is: a national disgrace that is dragging the country and its reputation through the muck. A few decades ago when this country was still relatively unknown to the world and the reputation, how we present ourselves as a nation might have been embarrassing, but if the world did not get a hold of news about the blemish, we might live to fight another day in the same state. With globalized 24 hour saturation media coverage – if an event that happened here is not being mentioned in New Zealand media, Al Jazeera, C.N.N., the Guardian, B.B.C., or an Australian media outlet could well be picking it up and broadcasting it to unknown millions.
So, if I may put the question to you, the reader, upon reading the above, do you agree with the statement below:
New Zealand will not be right if we allow the “she’ll be right” mentality to function at the highest levels.