Saturday, October 16, 2010

All You Neede Is Love

Click cartoon for a clearer view

Falling in love is a wonderful thing and we all deserve to experience it at least once in our lives. I wish there was a magic love formula to make it last for everyone. Alas, as many of us know, love can come and go and remain mysteriously elusive.

What interests me is the way our society copes with its consequences. Fortunately, New Zealand does this in a more tolerant and understanding way than it used to. This is reflected in legislation that recognizes our ethnic diversity and personal preferences.

Lawyers of course do very nicely out of this when things go awry. In the not so distant past, it was far simpler when heterosexual marriage was the legal norm. Men were top dogs and had superior rights when it came to property and family disputes. Now it is much more complex and the courts have mountains of reform legislation from Parliament to refer to.

We seem to need hordes of lawyers to protect us and defend our rights in these new laws. We even need them to help us opt out of default legal protection too – like completing matrimonial property agreements. These make clear who owns what if you split up. This complexity can be very daunting as you grow older and I think it might be contributing to the increasing number of Baby Boomers who are deciding to live alone.

You can even see this trend in the Kaipara District. I have been told that the number of houses in the Kaipara has gone up significantly over the last twenty years but the population has not increased as fast. In fact, in some areas it has gone down and the houses remain occupied.

Another new social change has been the rapid increase in solo parents who get Government assistance. Many couples are separating and sharing their children, which also means more houses are needed and extra vehicles required to maintain family connections.

Such a life choice is not easy and it will get harder as the National Government tightens up on benefit payments. Perhaps we will see a more Polynesian approach to cope. This occurred to me while I was returning home on a bus not long ago.

I saw a Maori woman hand a very young baby to an older woman (who was sitting close to me) and then leave without the baby before the bus got back onto the highway. Curiosity got the better of me and I had to ask my traveling companion why she had the baby.

“Oh his mother’s very busy right now and I’m taking him up north to see his whanau,” she replied. “How long for?” I asked, “Three months or so – he’s so beautiful, we might even keep him,” she said beaming at me.

As a parent with daughters, I might put off taking all of their childhood stuff to the Op Shop. You never know what the younger generation has in store for us Boomers.

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