The day we lost our innocence

On the 15th of March 2019 everything changed. A gunman went into two Christchurch Mosques unprovoked and with an incomprehensible level of senseless violence, and stole lives that were precious, lives of people who trusted our beautiful country to keep them safe. This is the dividing line between ‘before’ and ‘after’. Things will never feel the same again. We have joined a club we never wanted a part of. We can no longer watch similar attacks of the news in other countries, and say ‘Thank goodness that doesn’t happen here’. We can no longer hope that our tiny-ness, our position at the bottom of the world or our reputation as gentle, peace -loving good people will protect us. We are exposed now. Its here. We started the week with a measles epidemic and ended it with something a million times worse. That this should all play out in Christchurch, the city with a big heart that still bears the fractures of an earthquake eight years ago, seems beyond comprehension. It has a surreal otherness like a nightmare we hope we will wake from. This city, though, this city that raised me, has resilience down to a fine art and a sense of community and strength that has only been intensified through all of its suffering. The people in Canterbury know how to rally around. We know how to join together. We are experts at this. We do kindness well, and our hearts break for our Muslim Community. Hashtags of #thisisnotwhoweare flood social media. We are collectively heartbroken. There have been posts of anger towards the shooter, as well as suggestions of what awful punishment he should get for this evil hatred and pain he unleashed on our world. We are angry, and it’s a natural reaction to this most extreme of situations. Instead though, let’s not give him any air time. Let’s not waste any of our precious energy on him. Our justice system will do what it needs to. Our defence force, heroes all of them, are working hard to make sure this doesn’t happen again. In the meantime, let’s use our energy instead to spread kindness and love towards those who need it and deserve it. Our Muslim Community who are suffering terribly. Our children who are frightened. The elderly, the lonely, all of us. Lean together. Look out for each other. That is the only antidote to this awful act. Be strong, be kind, be inclusive. Because THAT is who we are.

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© 2016 Claire Inkson. All photographs copyright Claire Inkson

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