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Lifestyle: ‘Kindness’ since 15 March 2019, Christchurch

11 Apr 2019

The Prime Minister’s speech to the United Nations in September last year called for a new world order based on “kindness”. At the time I thought her words were naïve. I didn’t listen deeply enough.

The Prime Minister’s handling of the Christchurch atrocities has been a perfect example of kindness in action and it has done more for New Zealand’s image abroad than any other example in my recent memory.

The Prime Minister’s behaviour has also been a weighty example to each one of the 4.5 million of us of how important kindness can be in our day-to-day lives. Her kindness has affected discussions in schools, families, churches, service clubs and towns and cities across the country. No one could ignore her or her actions.

We should never under-estimate the power of such behaviour on not only how the world sees us but also on how we see ourselves as a nation. It can affect how we behave towards one another and how we individually understand our world.

In supporting people in grief, it is now (if it wasn’t always) acceptable and appropriate to –

  • Hug people you don’t know but whom you know have suffered a great tragedy
  • Wear the symbolic clothing of minority religious groups as a statement of solidarity with that group
  • See and hear the religious sights and sounds of a minority religion practicing in public, at official regional and national ceremonies and on TV
  • Have our Prime Minister announce that we are “all one” with a religious minority[1]
  • Have the religion that some of us have only seen practiced on ‘Homeland’, the made for TV drama series, practiced in public and openly acknowledged on the national stage
  • Use the energy of the atrocity to fast-track legislation to limit access to military-style semi-automatic and automatic guns and spend millions of dollars to pay for the withdrawal of those guns from private ownership
  • To provide special long-term social and financial support to the victim’s families whether they were residents of New Zealand, or not
  • To forgive the mass-murderer as some of the survivors have done despite losing immediate family members. They say they bear no on-going grudge against him
  • To acknowledge that the mass-murderer is still the “alleged” murderer until convicted in a court of law formally drawn up
  • To accept that it probably isn’t fair that we keep the murderer in a secure, warm, dry bed with plenty of good food and drink for the rest of his life while he has created a living hell for countless victims and their families, but our system of law, the bedrock of our society, requires it
  • To limit the murderer’s access to media and personal communications “in the interests of public safety” so he can’t continue to play to media attention

According to the NZ Listener of April 13, 21 women are now left widows after the murder-spree, many of them with children and with little support in New Zealand. Some of them will be here on visitor’s permits. Where do they go now? Can they stay here where their husbands and fathers are now buried?

There have been so many acts of kindness exhibited at all levels of this tragedy and its not over yet. I trust we can keep it going long-term.



[1] Muslim/Islam represents about 1% of people who answered the religion question in the 2013 census and of a similar proportion to Buddhists, Baptists, Mormons and Pentecostals. (Table 28, Statistics New Zealand 2013 Census report).

 

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