Senseless. Barbaric. Tragic. The news is still raw with the latest mass murders, 49 people killed and at least 20 injured in what appears to be coordinated attacks at two mosques. The leader is a male in his late 20s, along with at least two others being held by local authorities. An 89-page manifesto was left via a social media account just prior to the attacks, and it reads like an amalgamation of the language similar to words used by the Islamic State and al Qaeda, heavily biased anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric. Such attacks are nearly commonplace in the United States, sad to say; perhaps not every week, or even every month, but there have been enough in the past year that this news is almost expected to come from this country.
Unfortunately, this happened in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand.
The last time such a travesty happened in that country, thirteen people were killed by a single man on a shooting rampage in late 1990. That crime was not attributed to any xenophobia at the time, but New Zealand did tighten its gun laws. By comparison, that was a minor incident with nearly four times the victims, and the incidental evidence to go along with the suspect in this latest atrocity. Reports from New Zealand discuss the detailed planning of the attacks. Four people were initially arrested, with at least one confirmed to be an Australian citizen, and witnesses saying one of their attackers wore some kind of uniform.
Social media was certainly abuzz during and after the attacks, with one of the gunmen livestreaming their actions – this video has since been pulled by the social media websites, and authorities request no one share any copies they might have downloaded. In the aftermath, politicians and celebrities have condemned the actions of the perpetrators and sent condolences to those affected. This is as per usual, the people of the world unite in mourning and condemnation for a time, and then things go back to normal for most of the masses.
This is not the first international attack targeting immigrants – especially Muslims. The anti-Islamic sentiment in the latest manifesto is becoming less of a fringe and more common than most want to admit. In the last three years, hate crimes and extremist protests are on the rise, and while official word from the White House sends condolences to the families, it has not specifically condemned the actions of the New Zealand attackers. Conservatism, nationalism at an increasing rate, along with more pressure towards isolationism in countries all over the world – all this is contributing to the increasing hatred and xenophobic nature of many current events nationally and internationally. “Brexit”, “America First”, “MAGA”, to name a few, are the catch phrases, the banners which some use to justify the actions taken by what many used to consider fringe groups – those who now can walk openly and defy common civility.
Consider This – it is time for an attitude adjustment.
This global trend of turning within is the wrong direction. The polarization of the people is coming to a head, with the isolationism battling against inclusion. We see the bumper stickers and social media memes about sharing the world, “COEXIST” in the different religious symbols. THIS is the direction we should be going, embracing our differences and try to understand the other point of view, the other side of the coin. Too often the apparent conflict, the competition is between each other, when it should be considered a competition within ourselves. After a tragedy – whether natural or man-made – there is a brief unification of the nations of the world. Instead of letting it fade, we need to embrace this unification and make a change in attitude. We can’t let differences define our existence, or our relationships between people or nations. We share this world, and need to learn how to coexist in nurturing, harmonic unity.
If we look at our own nation, the nationalist trend which started when Trump took office is seeing the backlash of the progressive, liberal movement which started in that same election cycle. Many believe if the Democrats had chosen Bernie Sanders instead of Hillary Clinton, the election results would have been different, and the path our nation is one would have been different as well. But it isn’t too late to take a serious look at where we are as a nation, and determine where we want to be as participants in the future society of the world.
Coexist. Love, not hate.