So I'm sure a lot of you already know that a small minded and disturbed man has wreaked havoc and carnage in my home on Friday 15 March 2019.
My city, Christchurch, NZ, has just experienced yet ANOTHER life changing event - one where you are in fear for your life and that of loved ones. An event where for the rest of your life you will be able to recount where you were when it happened. I am heartbroken and sick to my stomach. We are all in shock.
New Zealand is a country where gun violence is NOT a daily occurrence and our police do not carry weapons. There are limited gun licences but they are for hunting or sport (Olympics etc). Obviously there are unlicensed weapons around and occasionally there is some gang violence involving firearms, but on the whole our biggest news stories around guns is about the police shooting someone.
This event is different.
Not only is it the worst mass shooting in New Zealand's history, but it was also done with a heart full of hate.
Our Prime Minister Jacinda Arden (if you have never heard of her I recommend you look her up she is amazing) summed the feeling of all New Zealander's perfectly when she said "It has no place in New Zealand". We are a nation of people who believe in kindness and helping our fellow humans and this kind of hate and violence has no place here.
She also said "We utterly reject and condemn you" about the shooter and his views about immigrants and said "they have chosen New Zealand as their home. They are us." Hate has been spread throughout the world in recent times and when Donald Trump called and asked what help the United States could provide she replied, "Sympathy and love for all Muslim communities".
We in Christchurch are still rebuilding our city from a series of devastating earthquakes and now this hate filled message of violence against people we have welcomed to live here has devastated us all over again. Tears come easily to all here as we are unable to comfort those families of the 50 people brutally murdered in our neighbourhoods and the knowledge that the coward did it for views.
The shooter horrifically live streamed the attacks on the two mosques here and calmly took the lives of babies, men and women in their place of worship, in their place of peace. I am not religious but everyone should have the right to freely pray without being murdered. That is our culture, freedom to choose your approach to the world, whether that be belief, thought or religion.
This man was so confused he thought New Zealand was a good target for his hateful and discriminatory violence and the best way to disseminate that hate was to use popular social media so others can watch and incite further violence. My plea to you all is not to give him any space. Don't watch the video, and if you do, just remember these people are someones mother, father, child, grandfather, not statistics or a video game. This is real and horrific and cannot be taken back. There is blood in our streets. My heart is broken. They are us.