Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind

Have we changed forever?


Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of Aotearoa New Zealand:
“We, New Zealand, we were not a target because we’re a safe harbour for those who hate, we were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we’re an enclave for extremists, we were chosen for the very fact we are none of these things.”

I have been able to look at the world, and think how irrational, intolerant and hate-filled it is and think that this little corner of the South Pacific is so very different. We pride ourselves that we are a compassionate and caring people. We can fly around the country and at domestic terminals being checked only for a valid boarding pass – no baggage checks or x-ray machines and no armed police or security guards. The Prime minister and members of the Cabinet travel on public transport and may not even have personal “minders”.

We expect to be able to approach members of parliament, from the newest backbencher right up to the Prime Minister to express our opinions and concerns. We are a very open society. Members of the government can expect disgruntled member of the public to express anger or frustration from time to time, but until recently such emotions would be expressed by hurling eggs, cow manure or even dildos, at a politician. Violent acts? Sure, but it’s mostly self esteem or pride and not body that has been hurt.

Yesterday morning, the Minister for the Environment was assaulted punched to the ground as he walked to his parliamentary office. Typically, he wasn’t accompanied by security personnel, and although we all felt angry that someone would abuse their right to approach a government minister, we all felt this was a one-off incident, and unlikely to be repeated. Ant then today we learn that a group of four terrorists attacked two mosques in Christchurch. Im a few months short of my 70th birthday, and up until today, there had been few terrorist attacks in Aotearoa New Zealand in my lifetime:

  • 1961: Four students attempted to blow up a flag pole on the Waitangi treaty grounds.
  • 1982: A pun rock anarchist blw himself up in the entrance of the Wanganui law enforcement computer centre.
  • 1984: A suitcase bomb killed the building caretaker of the Trades Hall in Wellington.
  • 1985: the French DGSE sunk the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbour killing one member of the crew
  • 2008: a Somali refugee attempted to hijack a domestic flight and divert it to Australia.

Perhaps trivial by world standards, but not by ours. But today all that changed. 40 people are now confirmed dead and another 20 critically ill from gunshot wounds. What makes it so gut wrenching is that many of the victims are new New Zealanders, having chosen Aotearoa New Zealand to be a safe haven from the violence they experienced in their homeland. The evil in the world has arrived at our doorstep and barged straight in.

I would like to hope that this event will not change the way we kiwis see ourselves and we continue to place as much, if not more, faith and trust in the almost 200 ethnicities that make up New Zealand as we have in the past. It would be very sad if we as a nation became suspicious of our fellow citizens simply because they follow a different religion, have a different coloured skin, wear different clothing, or speak a different language.

We should remember especially at times like this that we must avoid “othering” anyone who is different from ourselves in any way, be it language, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, gender identity, or ability. The best way to show the terrorists that they will fail is to become more inclusive and do it willingly and cheerfully.

My heart goes out to all those directly and indirectly affected by this outrage. If I believed in a deity, I’d be torn between praying for the victims and expressing hatred at the deity for allowing it to happen. Instead, I will consider what practical assistance I can give to make the lives of all those affected a little less painful.

Author: Barry

A post war baby boomer from Aotearoa New Zealand who has lived with migraines for as long as I can remember and discovered I am autistic at the age of sixty. I blog because in real life I'm somewhat backwards about coming forward with my opinions.

5 thoughts on “Have we changed forever?

  1. My fear and you express it is that this will likely change your society in ways that will not be recognisable in a few short years.
    My heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones and those in critical condition.

    • Yes, that is my fear, not for myself, but for the younger generations to follow. I have determined that I must play an active role in ensuring we remain and even become more of a compassionate and inclusive society that we already are. This is the only way we can overcome the desires of the terrorists. Even if we wiped them all out but in the process stopped trusting our neighbour, then they have won.

  2. I think the prime minister is handling it well. It’s about working together and showing solidarity, rather than about terror alerts and crackdowns.

  3. I saw this today on the news and immediate thought of you. I feel so sad for your country, as it seemed a shining light in an insane world. It is truly foreboding to the future of anything, if this can happen there.

    These youth and white nationalists have been radicalized somewhere along the way. In the US it’s lack of education, right wing ideology, religious hypocrisy and growing up in households where there is the same mindset, but perhaps not as violent.

    But what could it be in New Zealand? I don’t get a sense you have the same socio economic problems as we do here and not the religious extremism or poor education either. Puzzling to me.

    • The person charged with murder is an Australian who has been living here for just a few years, but I don’t think blaming it all on his nationality is the right thing to do. Apparently there were people with NZ origins who were cheering on line as the terrorist was live streaming the atrocity.

      I do feel that some people in power give legitimacy to such extreme views. For example just an hour after Trump phoned our prime minister to give his condolences, he was reiterating his claims that America is facing an invasion – exactly what this extremist was so frightened of.

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