Editorial: Remembrance and distraction

Last updated 05:00 19/04/2014

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OPINION: Easter and Anzac Day do make companionable neighbours.

Each speaks of sacrifice and if history has taught us anything it's that both redemptive and cautionary messages can be drawn from them.

Like the difference between living up to our faith and treating others intolerantly.

And between honest patriotism and uncritical jingoism.

Both these holidays do invite contemplation of high-minded and important matters. Generally, on Anzac Day, we get that right. Our thoughts tend to gravitate to worthwhile reasons for gratitude and regret.

Easter, however, does not seem to have that clarity of focus.

Part of the reason has to do with secularism. There's evidence we're trending more towards being a nation of elbow-benders than knee-benders.

But there's also a lesser, more mundane, reason why we collectively seem more wrapped up Anzac spirit than Easter spirit.

Easter is more assailed by distractive issues.

Like the rotten old road toll and the annual irritant of loopily inconsistent shop trading laws.

The disciplines of safe driving are well-enough known, though sadly not well-enough followed. So we have reason to keep an eye on the roadkill figures each year, ready to wince at the occasionally awful toll, but rather steeled against a more modest sacrificial offering, if you care to call it that.

Last Easter brought three fatal open-road crashes, bringing violent end to the lives of a driver, a passenger and a cyclist. The long Easter weekend does invite travel, though the increased traffic flows, and the tendency for longer journeys, do ramp up the risk factors. We just need to drive responsibly to minimise them.

The sheer inconsistency apparent in our Easter trading laws by now generates a tedious sort of interest.

For reasons that just don't bear scrutiny the rules are different in tourist areas, or at least some of them, than elsewhere.

And there's the reliable micro-rebellion of shops flouting the law because the modest fines still make it worth their while. There's widespread, if not quite uniform, public support for the view that in this case the law is an ass, and even the courts have reacted inconsistently to the issue of penalties.

Now retailers are complaining that the restrictive trading laws have "driven" shoppers online. Nowadays, that's an increasingly short drive.

Electronic transactions operator Paymark reports that Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Anzac Day are three of the four slowest shopping days of the year. By contrast, while these are also comparatively quiet days for online shopping, the figures have nevertheless been rising markedly.

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This may in some measure be a consequence of the trading laws repelling shoppers. Whether it's really such a terrible thing, however, is a separate question.

Mammon does pretty danged well out of Christmas. It's hard to see there being cause for reproach if the takings is down a bit come Easter time.

- The Southland Times

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