When I was young I recall my mother telling me that she remembered where she was the day that JFK was shot. That she could still clearly see the teacher telling the class while tears streamed down her face. I can remember thinking that I will never have those memories, because our world was better now than the one in which she was raised.
I am here to tell you that I was wrong.
I remember where I was during 9-11.
I remember what I was doing during the Eaton Centre shooting in Toronto. I know how I heard the news about Parkland and so many other atrocities that have become commonplace occurred in the USA.
I have signed petitions and voted for politicians that promise to increase gun laws and take automatic and semi-automatic weapons out of the hands of people outside the military. I have studied and written about the benefits of equity and diversity, but I haven’t worked hard enough to speak out against hate. In our modern world not speaking out has become way too similar to condoning these behaviours.
My ego told me that everyone was safe in NZ. That things like that just don’t happen here. I had moved to a place so kind and welcoming this former Torontonian couldn’t handle all the strangers that say hello as you walk down the street. Immigrants were welcome here.
When the news broke about the Christchurch/Ōtautahi shooting I was giving a lecture on the legal history of discrimination & employment equity legislation and the importance of speaking out against hate, bias and stereotypes to a group of university students from a variety of backgrounds. I spoke about how each of us has the chance to act as an advocate and help our world celebrate how our differences make our countries and world better and had talented students engaged in crafting a better world.
In a strange twist of fate I was attempting to teach others why we must not be silent when confronted with wrongdoing.
Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding a deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.Martin Luther King Jr.
We cannot combat hate with more hate. We must fight with love. My chosen home has welcomed me and I must now pay that forward and welcome others.
I will always remember where I was.
Kia Kaha Aotearoa