so, 2013 is pretty much over, and what an incredible year it has been. well, for me personally, it has been a year of amazingly wonderful experiences, strengthening friendships and i guess it has also been a time for me to find out a lot more about myself.
i started the year hoping to help out with local body elections, then being asked to stand myself. it took me a few months to lay the groundwork that would lead to my decision to be a candidate. it meant consulting a whole lot of people, persuading a couple, and looking for support.
and i was lucky enough to find a lot of support, sometimes from places i least expected it. but there were so many people who not only believed in me, but were willing to put their time, effort and money into my campaign. it was so incredibly humbling & uplifting at the same time. i've spent many years dabbling in politics, but crippled by a total lack of self-belief and self-confidence. i've never felt i was quite good enough or that i had what it takes. and i know that the confidence has to be built from within, but it sure does help to surround yourself with people who believe in you and won't let you believe anything but the best of yourself.
during the course of the campaign, i strongly felt like it was the right thing for me to be doing and that i was in my element. i loved the experiences, and meeting so many different people, hearing about their issues and the ways they were struggling. it became so clear that the best solutions come from within communities, and that they need the helping hand of government, both local and central, to make those solutions work. it's people who work in a particular field or have lived experiences to bring to the table who are the most valuable in creating change. the job of a good leader is to find those people, bring them together & facilitate their ability to achieve. while remaining quietly in the background. the latter is something not well suited to most people who are attracted to politics, and yet it's crucially important to step back & let others shine when you really want to get results.
then the campaign was over, and i had to learn to deal with failure. not the first time, not at all. but it was certainly a more public failure than any i've had so far. however, it was another opportunity to develop strength & resilience, to keep my dignity and remember that there is still so much to fight for. it was a time to for me to remember that i'd been so lucky to have so much support and so many positive experiences, and if the result wasn't what i was hoping for, well that wasn't the most important thing i'd gained from the process. so i gave myself a few days to mope, then got on with other things that needed to be done.
part of which is work on the central government elections coming up next year. there is so much going on, so many important decisions to be made & a government that must be changed. we need a government that responds to the needs of the marginalised, whether that marginalisation is economic or as a result of personal characteristics like race, gender or ability. we need a government that is prepared to be inclusive of all its citizens, and not prepared to denigrate them to score political points. we need a government committed to ensuring people have jobs, jobs that pay enough to live on; to decent working conditions; to educational opportunities for people of all ages. well, i could carry on, there are so many policies in so many areas i'd like to see put in place, so many things reversed and improved.
so i expect that's where the bulk of my energies in 2014 will be directed. but not solely. as with 2013, i hope to be involved in planning and organising various events, and working on projects. this year, i was lucky enough to be involved in organising the regional interfaith forum, a community iftar, an interfaith service, a silent march against rape culture followed by a public meeting, a regional conference & fundraisers, & public speaking engagements (especially dear to me was the opportunity to speak at the rememberance for nelson mandela at rugby park). on top of that were the regular board meetings for shama, free FM, becoming a trustee of a new trust called the ethnic nz trust, and helping to set up an ECE centre. there were various media appearances, the most memorable of which (for me) was an appearance on 7 sharp to talk about the boston bombings.
most of these activities will be carrying on into the new year. i find that i'm looking forward to 2014, and am expecting it to be as tumultuous, turbulent, challenging, exciting & rewarding as 2013 has been. i hope the year goes well for all of you as well; wishing the best for you in whatever circumstances you're facing.