What is this world coming to?
Why is there so much bigotry, hatred, and violence? Why do these evil acts of violence continue to occur? How could these New Zealand shootings occur in a place of worship? Why did God let this happen? On Friday, March 15, 2019, our hearts and minds were blown wide open in response to a monstrous massacre on two Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Tragically, innocent victims were targeted, while practicing their faith in peaceful prayer. Fifty loving souls were stolen, others were marred with life changing injuries, and countless families were scarred forever. These New Zealand shootings were carried out by a terrorist armed with a racist ideology and loaded with bigotry, intolerance, and violence. It is hard to comprehend how someone could direct so much anger and hatred toward other human beings. These racially fueled attacks could cause us to lose faith and hope in humanity and question “what is this world coming to?” But the global outpouring of love, empathy, and compassion for the victims, their families and the Muslim community gives us hope for a better world.
A leader with a heart full of love delivers a message of hope.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the incident was “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”. Under these dire circumstances, the prime minister remained strong and in control, offering love and compassion for the victims, while strongly condemning the actions of the terrorist. Her heartfelt messages brought comfort for those who were feeling isolated and persecuted. She said, “Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here. They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home.” “They are us,” she said. “The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not.” She went on to say, “For now, my thoughts, and I’m sure the thoughts of all New Zealanders, are with those who have been affected, and also with their families.” As she consoled her nation in mourning, she also shared her message of hope with the global community.
The world expresses love and support.
Prime Minister Arden expressed gratitude for the love and support pouring in from around the world. She said, “To the global community who have joined us today, who reached out to embrace New Zealand, and our Muslim community, to all of those who have gathered here today, we say thank you.” She also requested help. “And we also ask that the condemnation of violence and terrorism turns now to a collective response. The world has been stuck in a vicious cycle of extremism breeding extremism and it must end.” In the days following the massacre there were endearing expressions of love and support for the Muslim community worldwide. People of all faiths and beliefs visited mosques in solidarity. Social media channels were flooded with messages of love and compassion for the victims and condemnation of the horrific acts of violence. History has taught us hatred begets hatred, violence begets violence, and fear begets fear. In the wake of the Christchurch shootings, we have witnessed the goodness of mankind, as kindness begets kindness and love begets love.
Can we find forgiveness in our hearts?
It is hard to fathom the degree of pain and suffering the victims and their families are experiencing. Their nightmare continues as the gunman was recently charged with a total of 50 murder charges and 39 attempted murder charges. He has also been ordered to undergo a mental health assessment. It is hard to comprehend what drove this man to carryout such horrendous acts of violence and sadly, we might never know. But we do know that terrorists are not born, they are raised. At an impressionable age and when they are in a vulnerable mental state, would-be terrorists are brain-washed into believing and following extreme and dangerous ideology. Long before the gunman pulled the trigger, something went horribly wrong in his mind, in his judgements, in his beliefs, and most importantly, in his heart. At this early stage, it is hard to even consider forgiveness as a healing tool. Perhaps, in time, we will be able to adopt forgiveness and show would-be terrorists that love always prevails over hatred and fear. What matters now is how we move forward to support the victims and their families. They have a long road ahead of them for healing. We can help by sending them positive messages, loving thoughts, healing prayers, supportive resources, and by carrying out acts of kindness individually and collectively. Together we can restore faith and hope in humanity because diversity is our strength, love is our bond, and kindness is our true nature.
April 12, 2019
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