We’re Alive, but Far from Cool

You might have heard what happened in Christchurch yesterday. If you’re unaware, here’s our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, speaking for us.

I popped a brief note on Twitter yesterday:

I wanted to pen a longer note here as quite a few of you dropped me a line about this. Thank you for your thoughts, and your empathy for what we’re going through.

Yes, we’re alive. No, we’re not “good.” Rae and I live in Wellington, which is only an hour from Christchurch by plane (…pretty much anywhere in NZ is an hour from anywhere else). We’ve both lived there; hell, I spent time at a Christchurch school as a kid. This feels like it’s right in our back yard.

I think most New Zealanders felt safe. We see the news about terror attacks in the Americas and Europe, but we were insulated. It can’t happen here. No one really hates us that much, and we get on so well with each other. Our cost of living’s high, sure, but it’s a safe place to raise your children. We don’t get paid as much as elsewhere, but we make up for that in heart and comradeship. We’ve got great gun laws. We welcome migrants, embracing the other and giving them a safe home. We’re strong, and we’re kind.

Right?

Down here at the bottom of the world, in our tiny islands held a mere 4.7 million souls. From last night, there are 49 fewer.

Meanwhile, our country’s news media’s entered the usual frothing frenzy for clicks, giving the terrorists a platform by sharing videos and the manifesto. The President of the USA showed more empathy after the attack, and he doesn’t even live here.

I refuse to view this content. I don’t know what they want, and I don’t care. I won’t share their names, or details of the attack, or look for the video. Please follow my lead; these people should be erased from history. Only their victims deserve our attention.

They attacked my countrymen.

We had a lot of good things to celebrate this weekend. New Zealand’s youth organized a school strike to protest for climate change. Their efforts of hope and inspiration will be eclipsed by this tragedy. Today was meant for gay pride in our nation’s capital, but in a show of solidarity and empathy they’ve postponed the march. It feels wrong that such right things can be eclipsed by terrorists. We don’t have the tools to deal with this.

If you’re out there on Facebook or Twitter and wondering who to trust, look for official sources (our government keeps people up to date pretty well). Most stuff you see will be wrong, excepting the outpouring of sympathy and shock. We weren’t prepared for this, and it’ll take time to pick through the pieces. Say a nice thing to someone you don’t know. Be a friend to a stranger, regardless of their color or dress. If there’s one thing we know from today, we’re more alike than we’re different. We all cry and bleed the same.

Be excellent to each other.

Kia kaha. Christchurch.