My heart is a mess today.
In one aspect, I am deeply proud of the young people of the world today. The ones who stood up and said enough was enough, that the fate of our planet is far too important to be ignored any longer by politicians and adults alike. They stood in the streets, speaking and holding signs and begging the world leaders to pay attention. Some risked suspension or expulsion, some risked police records and some were just there because it is what their friends were doing. But like it or not, these young people learned massively about the power of social action, politics, civics and their ability to be resilient. I wish that when I was a teenager, I could have been as active and knowledgeable about the world and my place in the world. I wish I could have had a chance to be as vocal about what I thought and saw of the world and to be well connected with other young people whose voices rang the same. The internet has brought us many beautiful things, globalisation and unity despite location or language barriers being the one highlighted today. I now have these opportunities, I just wish I could have had them earlier.
Their voices were loud, their presence louder. And briefly, the world stopped to listen.
All at once, this act of violence and hatred then erupted from New Zealand. Reports of mosques having been open fired upon. Hatred. Extremism. Terror. Pain. Sadness. And in one corner of the internet, celebration.
It is very hard for me to sit here, with my love and hope for the world, and hear that due to someone’s belief that their life and their ideals are more important and valid than another person’s life, that is justification for the terrible attack that happened today. My heart mourns for the families and community that has been torn in two. My soul wonders if we as humanity can ever reach a place where we can coexist in harmony. My mind is challenged by how I can bring this about.
What challenges me, living in a country town, is that many of the young people I work with may share (parts or all) belief that what happened today was the right way to go about things. Some may connect what happened to a concerning train of thought that this is appropriate action to be taken by Caucasian Australia. Some may indirectly reaffirm the idealogical opinion, without understanding how their words will affect and hurt people around them. Some will just not care. Some will not know how to express their feelings, given that anything different to the norm is often suppressed in a country town. And this may be an experience that you share too, with the people that surround you.
So how do we respond?
How do we come together, to unite as one, just as so many school students did today, to stand up for what we believe is the best way to treat humanity?
Personally, I think it starts by us opening our minds and our doors to people we may not necessarily know, understand or be comfortable with. It means standing up when the words around us are not going to further the human race. It means listening to our young and our disabled and our poor and our women and our refugees and our minorities and hearing to understand what they have to say. It means acting in a way that always values all human life, regardless of what it may cost socially/physically/emotionally. It means loving, without condition, without expectation and without anger.
I think that’s the greatest challenge of all; to love, in spite of ourselves.