There’s an amusing bitter battle going on in Waikanae, an affluent coastal town 60km north of Wellington. It involves two factions, one, “The Friends of The Waikanae River” headed by an 86-year-old, and its rival, led by a 76-year-old dubbed “The Lord of The River”, who, despite his relative youth, leads the conservative faction in the row.
And the issue in dispute? Damming the river? Drawing water from it? Discharges into it? Brace yourself. It transpires that the dopey district council has been ripping out long-standing native plants from the river’s banks on the absurd grounds that a century ago, those particular species weren’t there.
This has the whole-hearted support of the Lord of The River and his followers but brought cries of “eco-terrorism” and “botanical ethnic cleansing” from The Friends of The Waikanae River (I’m not making this up). Unsurprisingly, it’s also backed by Te Papa’s Curator of Botany, doubtless bearded, who has described The Friends as not true conservationists but gardeners.
Truth is stranger than fiction!
Such is the depth of anger; the next step will be a full-scale shooting war with much loss of life which won’t matter because the protagonists are not making much use of theirs anyway.
That said, if I was to bear arms and join in the bloodbath then it would be alongside The Friends, consistent with my life-long detestation of fanatical conservatism, whether in politics, religion or anything at all.
When some of our more adventurous simian ancestors first dropped from the trees and attempted to stand, you may be assured it would have been to a background gibbering protest from the tree-bound and always-present conservative elements that have dogged human progress ever since.
All human advancement has been marked by conservative resistance. The most stultified period in mankind’s history; the thousand-years Dark Ages, was conservative church-prescribed while today ultra-conservative Islam fanaticism costs the world billions annually in holding its evil efforts at bay.
Political conservatism fought democracy, universal suffrage, votes for women, free education, weekend shopping, free trade and, indeed, every progressive step, big and small, towards our present civilisation.
Well said Sir Bob.