Phil Goff –
At the end of this month, we celebrate Diwali, the oldest and most important festival in the Indian calendar.
All of you are familiar with the message of Diwali, which represents the victory of light over darkness, symbolising good prevailing over evil and knowledge over ignorance.
In a world still troubled by much that is bad – violence, hatred, bigotry, prejudice and disharmony – Diwali is an important reminder to us that we must strive for a better, more positive and constructive world where people can live in peace, stability and prosperity.
We are fortunate in New Zealand that these values prevail overall, that our community is largely harmonious and people treat each other with mutual respect.
These are not, however, things that we can take for granted.
There is a resurgence around the world in intolerance and a tendency to blame minority groups for things that they are not to blame for.
Pauline Hansen in Australia used to blame Asians for problems in her country and now it is Muslims.
In the US, Republican candidate Donald Trump calls Muslims potential criminals and wants to ban all Muslims from entering the US, even denigrating American Muslim soldiers who died in service of the United States.
Populist politics unleash the capacity for evil, as we saw earlier in history with Hitler’s scapegoating of the Jews.
The importance of Diwali is that it sends a positive message about the good in human nature prevailing over the dark side of people’s prejudice.
It is also the time for New Zealand Indians to come together to celebrate their culture and heritage.
It is an opportunity for all of us to share in the richness and diversity of New Zealand’s different cultures and Auckland’s multicultural community. We can enjoy the richness of our diversity rather than allow differences to divide us.
Diwali is an opportunity for the Indian community to showcase its talent, colour, cuisine, culture and contribution to New Zealand. It is a message of hope, signifying new beginnings and a revival of life.
Happy Diwali to you and your family from mine.
My best wishes to all as we celebrate together the Festival of Lights.
Phil Goff was elected as Mayor of Auckland following the local government election result announced at press time. He resigned from his post as Member of Parliament after 32 years during which he served as a Minister of the Crown in various ministries and assignments. He will be sworn in as Mayor on November 1, 2016. He has been a regular columnist for Indian Newslink for several years and we hope that he would continue to speak to the people through this publication.
Photo: To life-long friendship: Helen Clark, Phil Goff, Peter Davis and Dr Ashraf Choudhary at the launch of ‘Electionlink’ pages at Indian Newslink premises on June 16, 2007 (Picture by Narendra Bedekar)