Don’t forget the enormity of what happened in Christchurch

It is easy to become jaded by the wall of media coverage, and it’s easy to get distracted by quibbles over the wearing of scarves, whether to shake hands or not, or whether a shop should stock a book – all trivial stuff.

But we shouldn’t forget the enormity of what happened in Christchurch. It was just one evil man, and just one (double) terrorist attack, nut it is a big deal for many people. It is the biggest atrocity by far in New Zealand in my lifetime.

50 innocent defenceless people were slaughtered – at their place of prayer, some (as reported ) in the women’s rest room. Men, women, children indiscriminately killed.

50 candles lit at the  Dunedin vigil, one for each life taken away in Christchurch
– watching those candles being lit one at a time emphasised the number affected

The attempted murder of 42 more people.

Fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, grandparents and grandchildren. A four year old girl critically injured, shot by a man with an assault rifle in a place and a country of peace. A fourteen year old boy injured, who watched his best friend and brother, and his father, gunned down.

Hundreds of people witnessed horrific scenes of callous carnage.

Thousands of people directly affected, family of the fallen, friends, members of the Muslim communities.

Millions of New Zealanders impacted by the shock, horror, grief.

This was an attack on all Kiwis, all of us here in New Zealand where we thought we were too remote for this sort of despicable act. Of course it only takes one deranged man to do this sort of damage, but it was an assault on our innocence and on our perception of immunity.

Don’t forget the enormity of what happened in Christchurch.

If you haven’t done it yet, drive or walk past a mosque if you have one in your area. All around the country many thousands of New Zealanders have paid their respects, and left flowers and messages of sympathy and good will.

Dunedin mosque a week after the Christchurch attack

One man carried out an enormously horrible act of violence.

Millions of New Zealanders rose in unity and defiance at an attempt to terrorise – an enormous reaction.

We can’t make the loss of fifty lives go away, we can’t erase what will long be remembered as a major historical event, but we learn from this and make more history.

We can all become better people for it, more understanding and accepting of differences, and united in working towards a more peaceful and more unified New Zealand community.

Each of us can only do a little, but together we can make an enormous difference.

This cartoon from The Canberra Times cartoonist Pat Campbell aptly depicts what has been happening around new Zealand over the last few days.