This post was started on the day after the horrific attack in New Zealand. It was then entitled “Jacinda Ardern and Fraser Anning: their messages … our response“. Since then, there has been much social comment and media coverage in relation to the use of language and the attitudes that demonstrate a distinct contrast between many politicians with that of the unequivocally admirable New Zealand Prime Minister. So there’s little need to add to that discourse. So, much of the original draft is now gone.
One thing that emerges, however, that is always worth stating is a very simple truth. A key aspect of which is in the title of this website.
Hate will always divide human beings.
Empathy will bring them together.
Jacinda Ardern has chosen to save her energy and time for the many for whom compassion and understanding will make a significant difference at this time. And she will not focus on the perpetrator.
In a perfect world, applying this basic principle would also encourage us to seek to understand those for whom we feel a natural revulsion.
But none of this is easy to do.* (Despite the fact that anyone – with or without a religious faith – will experience the positive outcomes of this approach.) It’s a challenge to put such wisdom into practice when those who cast out words of division and hate seem to be either:
threatened because of ignorance about the truth or
selfishly manipulating others to achieve personal power.
And especially when the former commit heinous acts and the latter can feel impossible to ever understand.
So perhaps all we can do in those circumstances is to use our time for compassion for those who so desperately need it. And who will immediately benefit in some small way.
And then try not to expend energy on those for whom calm and understanding will never surface within us. Especially when that can reward their destructive behaviour with the attention and empowerment they covet.
All we can do is try.
And when we see what someone who achieves is able to accomplish amidst deep suffering and fear, we can be inspired.
Because it’s possible.
And so many people across the globe deserve to be free from hate and the devastation that it continues to unleash.
* Ironically I as finalised this post, aggressive shouting began in the street immediately outside the building where I wrote. When a woman’s voice shrieked “He’s going to hit me …“, and violence sounded genuinely imminent, I was compelled to see if help was needed. The two people involved had moved around the corner so I proceeded to see if authorities would need to be called to intervene. But when a family member of one of the people arrived and shouted that I should ‘just **** off because it was none of my business and I was sticking my nose in where it didn’t belong’, did I remain calm? Did I stop and try understand why SHE was angry … perhaps out of her own fear or worry or even shame? (those insights came to me later, unfortunately) No. I became defensive and tried to explain that I didn’t want to know anyone’s business, all I wanted to do was to try and help to prevent someone from being hurt. But she angrily admonished me again. And so, pathetically, I ended up shouting myself. I was ashamed that I might seem like I was prying or relished the drama and wanted to know the details when, until today, I have always listened warily to such incidents – hoping to hear the sounds of someone else ensuring appropriate intervention. But having been compelled to write a post on a site about helping people, today I felt I should actually help. Rather than simply write about it. BUT … intentions aren’t enough when actual behaviour isn’t positive. Shouting will never instil peace. Serving selfish needs above understanding others was exactly what I had just been so sincerely espousing. So, ashamed though I am by what has just transpired, it’s a clear indication that doing what is best is rarely easy … for me at least. But I won’t give up trying. Firstly, to help people. But much more consciously and determinedly now to do so with calmness and understanding and not to indulge in the complacency that direct involvement will always have a positive impact.
So I have a long way to go. Clearly more than many.
This turned out to be a much less succinct post than was intended but the irony and the message of what has just transpired seemed too relevant to overlook, much as my personal shame wanted me to save others from this additional reading. But, to summarise – succinctly –