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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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The universal message we know as Easter

While many will be enjoying a well-earned Easter break with friends and family this weekend, some in the region will be working. This is a busy time for many Wairarapa businesses. Wineries will be preparing to harvest, or already harvesting, and hospitality venues will be humming – with visitors from Wellington and further afield. And of course, the popular balloon festival – with organisers anxiously scanning weather reports amid uncertainty over conditions.

Unfortunately, this Easter it is not only the balloon festival facing headwinds. There have seldom been times when there has been so much uncertainty both at home and abroad. Setting aside the economy for a moment [a well-canvassed topic and a justifiable source of worry for many], things people once considered unthinkable are now almost commonplace. Just in the past few weeks, a series of unrelated but shocking news items have hit international headlines.

After weeks of swirling conspiracy theories, the 42-year-old Princess of Wales publicly announced she is being treated for cancer. In a prerecorded video watched more than 104 million times on X [formerly Twitter] alone, the previously apparently healthy, vibrant young mother of three told the world she was undergoing chemotherapy.

Then, in a twist of world events few could have predicted even six months ago, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The USA abstained, effectively allowing the resolution to pass.

And then, just a few days ago, a container ship smashed into the supports of a key bridge in Baltimore in the USA – causing it to collapse into the river below. How this could have happened is almost unfathomable. However, the poor state of much of the infrastructure in the USA is not unknown, and this incident has shone an intense spotlight on the issue.

Last year the American Road and Transportation Builders Association reported more than 42,000 bridges were structurally deficient and in poor condition. The same report said one in three bridges needed to be repaired or replaced. An estimated 167 million crossings on 42,400 bridges were rated in poor condition.

This particular bridge was reportedly finished in 1977, well before huge container ships were common. Experts report the bridge was not designed to survive a head-on collision with such a big ship. While conspiracy theorists are presently enjoying a field day on social media, the sad truth is this is probably a tragic accident.

The world’s growing population and increasingly devastating climate-related events can be expected to put even more pressure on ageing infrastructure, transport, supply chains and other things everywhere. We see it here in New Zealand as well.

So perhaps now more than ever, the message of Easter is relevant. Whatever faith people belong to, and even for devout agnostics, the message of hope that is at the heart of the Christian Easter celebration remains a constant.

In the words of Charles Dickens: ‘It’s always something, to know you’ve done the most you could. But don’t leave off hoping, or it’s of no use doing anything.”

On that hopeful note, I wish everyone a peaceful and relaxing Easter.

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