New Zealand cemeteries are very different from the rest of the world. Elsewhere graves lie serene and somber, but in New Zealand, especially those graves of the Islanders, are curiously explicit. As I walked through a graveyard in Auckland, I saw one with a miniature fire truck, another with a helmet, all explaining to the passerby what the person had done throughout his life. And then I froze. I saw one that got me puzzled. It was a plain grave, no fire trucks or racing cars, but what made me stop was that it had no dates engraved on it.
Generally, there is the date of birth and the date when the person passed away, and a dash in the middle. On this grave there was a dash but no dates on either side.
I called my New Zealander brother-in-law and chuckling, pointed the discrepancy out to him, saying, “This guy never lived! It doesn’t say when he was born, or when he died!”
My brother-in-law looked closely, put his finger on either side of the dash and then informed me that the dates had been weathered away by wind and rain and snow.
But as we both walked away from the grave I thought of the statement I’d made in jest, “He never lived!” and realized there are many of us who never live, and one of them, I thought was Mr Nice Guy!”
I’m sure you’ve seen them everywhere; in your school, housing complexes, clubs, religious places, not just Mr Nice Guy, but it could be Miss or Mrs Nice Girl!
They are those who will not take a stand on anything. Won’t speak for or against. If there’s an issue which needs people to assert themselves and you go to them, he or she says, “I’d rather not get involved!”
“Why?” you ask.
“Because I don’t want the other side to get angry!”
No, he doesn’t, because whatever his belief, he wants to remain Mr Nice Guy to everybody.
Sometimes they use phrases that sound quite philosophical, “For the collective good of the people I will not take sides!” Collective good, means that collectively he will stand by the good and the bad! They don’t drive fire-trucks because they don’t put out the fire but watch from the side those who created the fire and also the people getting burnt, but don’t do anything about the fire!
Are you one of those? Our country at present have millions like them.
I wonder what people say at their funerals?
“He had such a nice smile!”
“I remember the way she laughed!”
That day, I looked at the other graves, firefighters and helmets and even a granite painting symbolically depicting an artist buried underneath, then glanced back at the grave of Mr Nice Guy, chuckled, and said out aloud, “There lies a man who never lived..!”
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