We are one, we are united.
That was the strongest message seen and heard in response to the shootings in the Christchurch mosques and it came with many heartwarming and uplifting displays of support.
But there was another message from some – a diatribe of blame aimed not just at the shooter but more widely at New Zealanders in general.
As Karl du Fresne wrote:
. . . in the days following the shootings, an alternative narrative emerged.
According to this alternative narrative, we are a hateful nation of racists, white supremacists and Islamophobes. . .
It’s a narrative of self-loathing that wants us to think the worst of ourselves. It’s a narrative that shamelessly seeks to politicise the killings and create a moral panic in the hope not only that we’ll tighten the gun ownership laws – no arguments there – but far more ominously, that we might be persuaded to discard such democratic niceties as freedom of speech. . .
They were only words, and most didn’t get to the mainstream media, but they weren’t words that sought to heal or help.
They were words that upset and divided.
The speakers were motivated by anger and politics. They made accusations of intolerance in such a way that showed they are intolerant.
They failed to see what they were expressing was not far away from the bigotry that blinded and drove the shooter.
I am not suggesting they were inciting violence.
I am not suggesting that there is none of the racism and xenophobia against which they were railing.
But they were opportunistically using the massacre to advance their own political agenda – one that doesn’t follow the example of the victim’s families who showed immense grace in the face of immeasurably grief.
Given their politics, these angry people might not have listened to Simon Bridges when he said:
. . . we all have a choice following the violence that tore through their community. To choose fear, hate or anger. Or to choose compassion, love and forgiveness.
Martin Luther King put it so well. “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” . .
It doesn’t matter whether blame and hate come from the left or right of the political spectrum, they are still blame and hate which at best solve nothing and at worst create more.
If these people want positive change they must seek to reconcile and repair, leave the darkness, seek the light, lose the hate and work for love.