White extremists entered two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand late Friday, March 15.
They open fired on Muslims peacefully participating in a weekly congregational prayer. Fifty were totaled dead and many others injured.
After being voted the second safest country in the world in 2018 by the Institute of Economics and Peace, this shooting shocked the nation.
New Zealand is not a country of hate yet somehow hate and fear had flooded their land.
However, what will be remembered more than the shooting itself is the way New Zealand reacted and handled this terrorist attack.
As New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern put it on Australian news program, The Project,
“I feel like what the world has seen is who we are.
We see ourselves as peaceful and inclusive, and the act was so counter to that.
Yet the response, the flood of flowers outside mosques, the spontaneous song when people have gathered, the real desire to give a sense of safety to return to worship.
“That’s New Zealand.”
The reaction seen in New Zealand, not only from the public but also from the politicians, is inspiring to say the least and should be an example for other nations.
Crowds gathered in Christchurch to mourn the loss of human life through such a hateful act.
Thousands of flowers, candles and notes of love surrounded the mosques where the shootings took place and continued to be laid for days afterwards.
A traditional Mauri dance, called the Haka, was performed on multiple occasions by community members to honor the lives lost.
Moments of silence were held across the nation in the week after to respect, remember and display unity.
The beautiful thing about all of these reactions is that, despite the fact these deaths being one’s of Muslims whom are for some sad reason often feared and stereotyped as dangerous in today’s society, the people of New Zealand gathered today as one, no matter their race, religion, age or gender and showed real compassion, love and grief.
The day after the shootings, many women, including Ardern, stepped out wearing hijabs to not only show love and respect for the Muslim community but also to help start rebuilding a sense of safety for those who feel threatened every day just by wearing an item of their faith.
The outpouring of support continues today, weeks later, with $10 Million NZ being raised for the families of the victims through various crowdfunding pages.
New Zealand displayed to the world that discrimination and separation doesn’t have to and shouldn’t be a thing.
We can love everyone and live in harmony no matter what.
The most profound and fascinating reaction to these shootings was the quick response Ardern took to evaluate and change the laws around gun ownership.
In a public address less than a week after the attack, Ardern said, “on March 15 our history changed forever. Now, our laws will too.”
She continued on to explain how all military-style semi-automatic and assault rifles will be banned in New Zealand.
Setting up a buyback scheme at an estimated cost of $100 Million NZ to $200 Million NZ, Ardern stated, “our actions, on behalf of all New Zealanders, are directed at making sure this never happens again.”
This quick change in gun laws is something that has stunned many people around the world, particularly for many Americans.
After over 300 mass shootings in 2018 alone, nothing has majorly changed in relation to gun laws or any other laws.
The American government seems somewhat ignorant to the fact that people are dying from the same cause over and over again.
Even a similar shooting at a Pittsburgh Synagogue in October, 2018 that saw 11 killed and seven injured resulted in nothing but talk.
Yet, here is Ardern dramatically transforming the country through one law change that was initiated six days after.
Yes, it’s not going to be simple and it will cost a lot. Yet, Ardern showed where her and New Zealand’s values lay; in the lives of its people.
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