As anyone will know Christchurch was the site of a terrorist attack last Friday. Like so many living in this city I’ve been contacted by many of my family and friends overseas. Each have expressed their concern and most have asked whether my family were affected. I was grateful for their contact and concern.
At the time my response was to be thankful and to report that we were safe and in the main not affected directly. Our youngest daughter was at school at the time of the shooting and was impacted by the citywide lock down of all schools. We were mildly inconvenienced by not being able to travel into the city for an appointment that afternoon.
It soon became very apparent that our inconvenience was so minuscule when set against the horror of the crime unfolding. We became consumed as a city with the unfolding horror of the attack on our city’s Muslim community.
We are a city who has already suffered so much with the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. The sound of sirens, helicopters and the unfolding news certainly triggered bad memories for us all.
What I have come to reflect on over the weekend and in the time since the murder of 50 people and the wounding of a similar number is that we were very much affected. Some have asked whether we knew any of those caught up in the crime.
I say yes.
Each and everyone of those killed or wounded was my neighbour. I knew them at the supermarket, where they were the person in front of me at the checkout. They were the person I said hello to as I entered or exited a cafe, they were married to my dentist or were the person who sold me an item at a store.
They were my fellow citizens, my community.
I’m really angry about what has happened. I’m so heartily saddened for the victims who are so innocent and so numerous. I am in awe of the actions of our Police, our Prime Minister and so many agencies and citizens whose response to this event has been so quintessentially Kiwi.
I have enormous hope that some good will come from this event. We need urgent and significant changes to our gun laws. It will provide an opportunity for the Muslim community to be heard and better protected from Islamophobia in our country.
I will read about the victims not the killer. I will remember their stories.
It will be a moment for us to all make a personal commitment to be kinder citizens.