We the people might prefer something more meaningful

19:57, May 01 2013

I am bored, bored, bored by the prospect of a New Zealand constitution, oh let me count the ways.

I'm bored by the notion of fanning an already tenuous sense of nationhood into a legal framework that will lack the genius and almost biblical wisdom of, say, the American constitution.

Without America's stirring myth of nationhood, its founding documents drawn up in a time when old values and systems of government were being overturned, root and branch, by the best minds of their generation, what have we got? Not dreams of a better world, but a cynical disbelief that it's possible to create one.

A group of randomly chosen people will natter on about the constitution idea, I gather. It's not an idea driven by all of us, get that straight, but someone's bright idea that is bound to end in meanderings in which nobody but Maori - and goodness knows I don't begrudge them - sees a sliver of opportunity for betterment. I doubt that anyone else cares enough.

I'm bored by our social experiments, with the loudest voices always prevailing, and with our general inertia about anything except, possibly, property values and Anzac Day. I guess the first entry in our contrived constitution, then, might be that we will remember Anzac Day and keep it holy - but what does that mean when we don't really believe that anything is holy?

Before we start talking about a constitution, we could survey what we really believe in, if anything, to build a framework for discussion, so here are some current vague indications of what we believe to be self-evident: That teenagers getting drunk legally is good, but that their actually doing it is kind of not good, sort of.


That recreational drugs are basically OK really, and that

Tomato sauce improves most meals.

That we should have the right to order the time, manner and place of our death, and demand that someone sort it for us.

That parts of New Zealand are in fact Tuscany and Provence.

That porn is sophisticated.

We believe in Christmas shopping, and

Easter eggs.

We believe that people only end up poor because they smoke and drink and take drugs and are probably less brainy than we are.

That a military calamity, while invading a foreign country at the other end of the planet, at the behest of the British Empire, is a suitable platform for collective pride and nation building.

That star signs are true, that arnica solves most hurts, and that inoculating kids may not really stop them getting serious illnesses, and in

Barefoot weddings on the beach, and

Nature, the place where you take dogs off their leads, and release the cats you're bored with, and where you shoot things.

That Asia is our future, kind of, but mostly in America, Great Britain and Australia.

That tattoos make us look pretty, and more tattoos make you prettier.

That conspiracy theories are probably true.

And vaguely that all people should get a fair go, whatever we think that is.

Good luck with that. I seem to recall some of our bright sparks tossed a constitution together for Fiji that lasted - oh - minutes.

Here's one way I'd rather great legal minds whiled away the balmy autumn days: pondering why a woman seeking help from police to deal with a scary man, a woman with a young daughter, can't be told that he has killed in the past, and so realistically protect herself and her home.

Also, while sinking to this mundane level, ponder why important facts like that are not automatically shared between countries, and why we - everyone - shouldn't be able to check out other people's past criminality. We know about the right of criminals to privacy, and that they might not like people knowing the dumb things they've done, but there is another viewpoint.

A tip: might save lives.

The Dominion Post