I have another opinion piece in the Dom Post today, ‘though this time, it’s not on-line. I’ve scanned a copy: click on the thumbnail to see a largish and legible-ish version of it, and then click again to increase the size so that you can read it.
The argument is quite straightforward: in order to accommodate the increasing diversity in our society, instead of having public holidays on Christian festivals, but not on other faiths’ holy days, we should change the law to allow each person to choose two ‘public’ holidays for her or himself. This would enable Christians to celebrate Christmas and Easter, and Muslims to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, and Hindus to celebrate Diwali, and so on.
And there’s a fairly standard argument raised in response by those who would like everything to just stay the same and suit them so that they don’t have to make any changes whatsoever: all those people from other ethnicities who came here knew what the rules were before they arrived, so they can just lump it.
In the column, I point out that these days, many people of other faith traditions, meaning non-Christian traditions, were born here, and in any case, many have become citizens, so they are entitled to the same rights as other citizens.
But evidently that argument was too subtle for one of my in-laws, who quizzed me tonight about the column, and raised the standard argument, even though I had addressed it already. I quietly seethed, but simply argued the point back, and suggested that given that we live in a diverse society, and that diversity is increasing, then as a matter of practical living, we simply must find ways of rubbing along together. She desisted, thank goodness.
Because otherwise, I would have had to point out that if immigrants were to simply take on board the rules that were in existence when they arrived, then we would all be celebrating Matariki. And I don’t imagine that she would have liked that at all.
I came across one interesting snippet when I was writing the column. Our Holidays Act says that the purpose of the Act is:
to promote balance between work and other aspects of employees’ lives and, to that end, to provide employees with minimum entitlements to—
(a) annual holidays to provide the opportunity for rest and recreation:
(b) public holidays for the observance of days of national, religious, or cultural significance:
(c) sick leave to assist employees who are unable to attend work because they are sick or injured, or because someone who depends on the employee for care is sick or injured:
(d) bereavement leave to assist employees who are unable to attend work because they have suffered a bereavement.
The emphasis is mine.
I don’t think the Act is fulfilling its purpose. It gives employees entitlements to holidays for Christian religious purposes, but no holidays are allowed for any other faith’s religious purposes. Either the Act needs to be changed, or some consideration needs to be given to marking religious festivals in faiths other than the Christian faith.
As usual, I ended the column with a slightly quirky descriptive line about myself.
Deborah … would like to take a day’s leave each year to celebrate Darwin’s birthday.