Since Friday, our attention has rightly been focused on the events in Christchurch. Shock, disbelief and outrage. Who could do this? Not in New Zealand! These are our people. Attack them, and you attack all of us.
In vigils, with flowers and chalked footpath messages, lines of people came to say, ‘We stand with you.’ We said, ‘Things like this don’t happen here,’ but despite those who spoke otherwise, we now know that they do. The worst of the world has come to us and we are forever changed.
Complacency is worse than hate. It makes us blind, stops us questioning, lulls us into comfort.
After Trump was elected, American friends asked, ‘Who are these people? I’ve never met them, I don’t know them, I don’t understand them.’ Thanks to media algorithms, it’s not surprising. We don’t read the same news or watch the same TV. We don’t inhabit the same spaces on the Internet. But these views are hidden in plain sight, if we care enough to seek them out.
Understanding doesn’t mean acceptance.
In the aftermath of Friday, we need to lift our gaze from the repeated replays of horror, to ask better and bigger questions.
Yes, gun laws need examining, but make this about more than firearms.
Yes, extremists deserve close monitoring, but make this about more than terror.
Events like this leave us feeling exposed, vulnerable and powerless. Unless we choose otherwise. The Dalai Lama, the master of peace himself, said ‘If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.’
We each have a voice. It’s time to use it for understanding, not blame. Yes, Christchurch happened. Yes, it is appalling. Yes, we stand with the Muslim community. Now what? Don’t let grief disable you. There is work to be done.