Tēnā koutou e ngā rangatira mā i tēnei wā pouri rawa.
It is with the greatest respect that I greet you all in this unprecedented time of deep sadness.
It is a time of great change for us in Aotearoa, New Zealand, as our country is rocked by last Friday’s mass shootings at the peaceful Christchurch mosques.
This assault has deeply impacted our kiwi communities and global citizens on the most human of levels––through spirit, mind and body. Our psyche has been disrupted, our foundations knocked out of alignment, put off balance, fractured.
There has been an incredible outpouring of love and generosity from kiwis towards our Muslim communities, not only locally but also on a global scale.
It stresses to me that we have an incredible nation here at the bottom of the world, with a remarkable, young and empathetic leader in our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. She embodies the concept of values-based leadership and emphasises the crucial importance of empathy and connectedness. Jacinda demonstrates to the world that we, as a nation, value who we are. It is evident that her words and actions come from a place of deep humility and genuine concern for humanity.
This is not a time for political agendas. It is a time for redesigned conversations and empowering possibilities, for old ideas to be revisited, reheard and reflected upon.
We have an extraordinary opportunity during this recovery period to find collaborative solutions that will benefit our communities in unique and positive ways. We must be aware and we must be mindful.
The reality is that New Zealand will never be the same again. Across the globe, the seed of negative rhetoric is growing and becoming normalised, creating a space where respect and understanding for others is being pushed aside and ignored. The active and often subtle marginalisation of people through words, actions and policies is where fear is fueled.
This mass shooting has caused direct harm and trauma to our peaceful Muslim communities. Oftentimes, these communities already come from a background of trauma and war that is intergenerational and multi-faceted.
It has saddened my spirit deeply and the question arises––what can I do? What can we do?
Vicarious trauma is seen everywhere as an outpouring of grief ripples through our country and around the world.
It is time to address the core of who we are, to reflect on our daily lives and how we may be impacting negatively on others. Taking the time to understand and get to know people is what helps to demystify the concept of ‘other’. We have more in common than we know.
Through self-assessment, self-reflection and self-awareness, we can create change from within. Turning our viewpoint inwards and facing our own ways of being is a very challenging task because it opens up our vulnerabilities. We must ask ourselves how our presence affects others when we walk into a room, what our first point of contact looks and feels like. Are we being welcoming or dismissive? Inclusive or exclusive?
Now is a time for personal questions and deep reflections.
Celebrating and sharing in empathy, compassion, connectedness, culture and kindness is my passion and hope for a better world.
Let’s become more curious about the world around us. Let’s begin to change our lenses to see the world from different points of view. Let’s harness this outpouring of love for humankind and and become a more mindful, connected and inclusive New Zealand.
Ka tuku aroha ki a koutou. Ngā mihi nui rawa.
Much love to you all,
NZ Registered Nurse.
The Integrative Nurse Coach
Thank you so much for all the heartfelt messages I received in response to this article:
Mariola Leja Peden, USA
For three years I volunteer to teach
ESL ( English as a second language ) and I testify sincerely that the service among the newcomers awards the opportunities for self – reflection and self – awareness, supporting others to find their new voice strengthens ours, listening to the different point of view with heart, shifts the perceptual connection to create the miracle of coherence. We experienced healing in our INCA classroom. The violence comes in many shades. We salute your efforts Anah for your healing words and your courage to embrace the dialogue and showing up to be present for your wounded community. We continue to pray for people on earth to seek common ground and expansion.
Zoe Moffitt, USA
With prayers and good energy for peaceful healing and love to you and the people of New Zealand, especially for those in the communities of these mosques. Thank you for this beautifully written powerful and compassionate message, Anah.
Carolyn Jones, New York City, Ethnographer Documentary Maker.
It is no coincidence that these words are written by a nurse. To find a peaceful way to react to violence, and to care for all, are things nurses do every day. We have so much to learn from them. Thank you Anah for leading the way. With love, Carolyn
Taiheke Morris, Derbyshire Aotearoa
You write so very meaningful and I fully agree that we all must better ourselves in sharing what you described, for a better world. Atāhua cousin.