Why Our Words Matter
Updated: May 22, 2019
Written by Stacey Shortall
If you are like me, even before that first whiff of morning coffee you start your day with a quick glance at online news and social media sites to assess the hot button issues in our country.
Hundreds of thousands of us in New Zealand log on to the Internet and other social spaces, often several times a day, to read about the issues that matter for our country.
What we read can influence us. Who writes what we read, can change us. Words are the first step towards change. This is Why Our Words Matter.
A website designed to push the boundaries of what is possible, Our Words Matter is a forum to solve the big, thorny problems that plague New Zealand. For tackling climate change, crime, diversity, drugs, education, guns, hate speech, health, housing, jobs, mental health, poverty, the economy, the environment, the Treaty and violence requires us to move beyond repeating the same old tired arguments from the same old voices.
Rather, fresh ideas from diverse people, including those who may feel fragmented and disconnected from our wider community, may generate new solutions to entrenched challenges.
For no-one has a monopoly on good ideas to address the tough issues facing our wonderful country. We can all have them and in fact, many New Zealanders do.
Around our kitchens, schools, cafés, offices and boardroom tables every day New Zealanders discuss a myriad of topics. We debate root causes. We explore opportunities for change. We generate solutions. This happens because New Zealanders have an openness to reading, learning and experiencing new things. We like to develop good ideas.
With Our Words Matter providing an online forum for more of those good ideas to be widely shared, New Zealand can do better. For some people in New Zealand, we simply must do better. Right now.
Children stuck in poverty, women trapped in abuse, families ensnared in violence, youth caught in despair, communities terrorised by hate, not to mention many other struggling New Zealanders, need us to arrive at new solutions fast.
We can do that if we engage together collectively.
While the colour of our skin, the languages that we speak, the faiths that we have, or do not have, our genders, our backgrounds, our postcodes, our jobs, our incomes, and even our fears may separate us, they do not need to divide us. They may act as a differentiator but they also bring an opportunity to offer a diversity of perspectives that New Zealand needs to tackle our entrenched problems.
Not everyone has the same viewpoint, the same understanding of the causes or the same solution to an issue and this is what our Our Words Matter is about – a place to share ideas, bridge divisions, grow awareness and foster action.
We need good contributions from those who have an opinion so that people who are searching online for content can find an array of different perspectives and be exposed to ideas, root causes, underlying statistics and potential solutions in one place. These people can also become part of a collective effort to drive change.
Our Words Matter will build a stronger sense of national community around the issues that matter to us all. It will remind us that the future of every child is our own future. That the safety of every person is our own safety. That the potential of every individual is our national potential. And that the good ideas of anyone can help everyone.