Challenging hatred for a greater peace

Reflections

The Rev’d Andrew Schmidt reflects on the Christchurch terror attacks and the collective responsibility we all have to help make our communities safe: “We all have a responsibility to challenge hatred for the sake of a much greater peace”

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In light of the events in Christchurch on Friday, I have been wondering what to say.

As I tried to gather my thoughts, I was reminded about a training seminar I went to many years ago regarding workplace health and safety. I am no fan of the paperwork associated with WH&S, but I do recognise that the brilliance behind WH&S is the realisation that there is a relationship between the causes of minor incidents – frayed carpets and cords – and the major events and tragedies in which a person loses life or limb.

Picture a pyramid if you will, with the large number of minor events being the base and the tragic life-altering events being the pinnacle. In order to reduce the number of tragic events at the top, the goal is not merely to remove the top of the pyramid, but to shrink the base, which will in turn reduce the pinnacle.

In a similar way with events like the massacre of Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, our community’s response, if we truly wish to see fewer of these tragic events occurring, is not merely to try and tackle the ideologies of extremist individuals at the top of the pyramid, but to reduce the base of people who express Islamophobic and racist sentiments.

This means not just quietly cringing if someone makes a comment about ‘those Muslims’, but challenging the remark. If reasonable people see a tripping hazard at work, they don’t just walk past it, they do something to fix the situation in order to make it safe. So, if we see a person or group being dehumanised, we need to firmly, respectfully and effectively address the situation to help make the whole community safe.

I know this will be hard for me and others like me, as I was raised not to challenge the views of others and to value the peace in the moment. However, just as workplace health and safety is everyone’s responsibility under the Act, we all also have a moral duty of care to each other in making our communities safe.

Friday’s Christchurch mosque attacks, when 50 innocent people died and many others were critically injured, make it abundantly clear that we all have a responsibility to challenge hatred for the sake of a much greater peace.

 

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