Standing against hate and violence
Sir, – Like all of us, I was saddened and horrified by the murder of so many innocent people in last Friday’s terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand. As the smiling faces of victims, frozen in photographs, began to surface in the news, I asked myself how we have allowed hatred and division to make such inroads in democracies the world over – including New Zealand, a peaceful society not dissimilar to our own.
Earlier this week, I was at work when a child was born in the early hours of the morning at our hospital. Her parents are refugees, arrived here from a country far away. The baby was in some distress and needed help getting her breathing up and running. She had soft brown skin, tiny clenched hands and feet, and the beginnings of a shock of curly hair to match her mother’s. Thankfully, within a few minutes she was doing well, and objected loudly as we dried and weighed her. Her father did not have much English, but he cried as he received his newborn daughter, and no words were needed.
That child is full of grace. So was every one of the 50 people murdered while at prayer in Christchurch. She and her parents are welcome in this country, and so are all those who come here seeking refuge and a new life. As a society we are lucky beyond words to have them in our future. We must cherish them.
We are tempted to regard such atrocities as inexplicable mysteries, and to chalk off their perpetrators as deranged lunatics. But to do so is an abdication of responsibility: this may be a tragedy, but it is no mystery. There are forces in societies including our own which seek to divide us from each other, and voices, emboldened by the day, which tell us to fear those who are not like us, and to regard them as “other”. This is the ubiquitous starting point of such terrible violence.
Anybody who believes in a society founded on tolerance, inclusion and the fundamental dignity and worth of every human person: the responsibility falls to each of us to uphold those values in our daily lives, to fight those who seek to divide us from ourselves, and to redouble our efforts to make society a better place for all – for those already here and for those who have just begun. – Yours, etc,
Coombe Women and
Infants University Hospital,