}

Friday, March 22, 2019

We were one



I went to a local gathering at the edge of the Manukau Harbour to join with others in the community to observe today’s two minute silence in memory of those NZ lost in the terrorist attack last week. A couple dozen people or so were there, right in our little community, taking time out from the work day. They were men and women, and various ages. Some of the women wore head scarves. I held my phone up so we could all hear Radio New Zealand’s broadcast of the Muslim call to prayer and the two minutes silence. During those two minutes, the only sound we heard was the broadcast of the squeals and chirps of very young children, which seemed appropriate to me. I also watched the tide slowly go out, and to me that was a symbol of our collective grief starting to ease. May the families of the victims find some small measure of peace that New Zealanders could unite in sorrow and solidarity with the victims’ families and community, and in peace and love. I hope we all will now work together to make sure that such a thing can never happen here again. #WelcomeBrother #Aroha4NZ #RadioNZ
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Today New Zealand stopped for two minutes silence to remember those we lost a week ago today. There were small and large gatherings, just as there have been all week. I even found a small gathering to attend right in our little community.

The caption for the Instagram photo above pretty much tells the story of the small commemoration I attended, but the main commemoration was at Hagley Park in Christchurch, the park that borders the Al Noor Mosque. After the time of silence, the mosque’s Imam told the crowd, "New Zealand is unbreakable. We are broken-hearted but we are not broken." He also said, "Thank you for your love and compassion. To our Prime Minister, thank you. Thank you for your leadership – it has been a lesson for the world's leaders.” Most poignantly, he said: "Thank you to our neighbours who opened their doors to save us from the killer."

Before everything began, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the crowd, "New Zealand mourns with you. We are one."

The caption above doesn’t tell the whole story about my photo, of course, which is something I do on this blog instead. The truth is, I wasn’t sure I was going to go until the last-minute before I left, and even then I was a bit on auto pilot.

Despite what some may think because I publicly blog, podcast, etc., I’m actually a pretty shy person by nature, especially when it comes to public gatherings where I won’t know any of the people there. All morning I tried to decide if I should go or not, my indecision being because of that reluctance to put myself “out there”. My anxiety was still rising right up until the moment I grabbed my keys, said goodbye to the dogs, and left the house.

Two things made me push on and persevere. First, and most obviously, this wasn’t about me, and had I stayed home it would have become about me. Second, and this is what provided my final push, I was ashamed to realise how my fear about going to that gathering was absolutely nothing compared to the terror the victims must’ve felt a week ago today. From that point, I was determined to go despite my anxiousness because I felt a need to be strong for them, the survivors, and those who were mourning the people we lost. Which didn’t make it any easier to go, to be honest, and I was uncomfortable there, but it at least provided the drive I needed to go and do the right thing.

I mention that because in the future we’ll all be forced to confront our own personal fears and anxieties to do what is right, to stand up to racism and bigotry, to draw our community closer together and resist the efforts of those who would tear us apart. For many of us, this will be extremely difficult to do, and we will be very uncomfortable, or worse. But today I learned that being committed to doing the right thing can help to overcome shyness and anxieties so that we can do what we must.

Today we really were one. I got strength from that. I hope that as we move on from the horror of last week we can all draw strength from it, too.

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