Christchurch has been back in the news recently for all the wrong reasons. First we had the renewed sequence of aftershocks that hit us all from the 23rd of December last year.
One consistent thread that has been running through the public narrative has been the story we like to tell ourselves of a tough and resilient populace soldiering on in the face of all these obstacles. Not exactly cheerful, but coping despite the latest set of knock backs.
Sure, some cracks are beginning to show. The public reaction to the obscene pay rise given to the Christchurch City Council’s chief executive Tony Marryatt, the resulting witch hunt initiated by Mayor Bob Parker. The very public meltdown of our elected city council and the threat of “independent” commissioners, being cases in point.
But overall the message you see in the media is one of rebuilding and renewal, on the way. A reward for all that resilience and toughness that we have displayed.
An article by Lara-Strongman in the Australian Design Review provides a different perspective:
If resilience is a measure of the amount of strain that can be absorbed before breaking point is reached, Christchurch people are at the limit of their elasticity. Doctor friends have told me quietly about the large volume of antidepressants they’re prescribing and, despite many outlets having closed, alcohol consumption is up across the city. The Problem Gambling Foundation reports that the use of pokie machines has tripled since February’s quake. I’m not surprised by any of this. Some days it’s not easy to find reasons to be cheerful. But to admit that the task ahead seems, at times, overwhelming – that one is not as resilient as one might be – is to admit to personal weakness. That’s what it feels like for many people, anyway.
This article really resonated with me, and I strongly recommend that anyone who is interested in what people in quake effected Christchurch are going through, go and read it.