The Christchurch massacre sent shock-waves across the world. It demonstrated racism at its ugliest. It is in sharp contrast, however, to my weekly experience in Lane Cove amongst the Meeting House playgroup. Serving coffee and cake to the mums (mainly) for over 4 years now, I hear their joys and sorrows amidst the demanding early parenthood journey. Over this time, there has been a wonderful and changing multicultural mix of people there. I gave up on trying to identify each race and accent long ago! I observe more of a ‘common story’ of being a parent, often in a new land, than differences amongst them. As I watch the ever-changing group from the kitchen servery, my heart warms to see children of different ethnicities playing together, while their watching mums share tips and tales.
Another pre-schooler’s mum has been a standout over this period: Jacinda Ardern. What wisdom and grace this younger woman has shown leading New Zealand’s response to the massacre. What has made her so outstanding? I saw a huge amount of empathy, as Ardern hugged a grieving Muslim lady. She wore black and a loose head scarf – a sign of identification with Muslim people – whilst maintaining her own identity. She showed courage, no doubt aware that many may not appreciate this solidarity. Decisiveness and wisdom were present in large measure – refusing to name the perpetrator to discourage copycat behaviour, sending off an envoy to Turkey to quickly end a diplomatic crisis, changing gun laws in a week! She named her country’s positive values for all to hear. To name a few.
In the midst of hate, the light of love appeared and spread. Other faiths and peoples embraced Muslims in a public show of support.
A younger generation is dispensing with outdated hostilities and fears regarding race and religion. By discussing what we have in common – rather than our differences – the light of truth reveals misplaced fears. Be a leader and a peace maker by choosing to identify our common humanity amidst difference.
The articles here are currently written by Liam McKenna, Lane Cove Community Chaplain.