As many of you know, I am from New Zealand. As many of you will also know, our country had a shocking and unexpected entrance into the world of terrorism two weeks ago, with a white supremacist murdering 50 Muslims at worship and injuring another 50 besides. Per capita, they say that’s the equivalent of 4,000 deaths in a proportionately bigger country like the U.S.A.
I guess that part of living in a country that’s about as far away from the Northern Hemisphere that you can get - where we talk about two degrees of separation and not six - has made us feel safe and secure. The rest of the world has constant risks, but not here. No, here we are safe.
The shock and outrage felt by the majority of the country speaks volumes about us as a people. The outpouring of grief and charitable donations has been incredible. The anger that the perpetrator is a foreign citizen has been significant. The government has already taken steps to legislate a ban against semi-automatic and assault weapons. Questions are being asked about how such a plot was not foiled in the first place – and even more questions are being asked about how we can learn lessons from this awful tragedy so that nothing like it ever happens again.
The fallout is real. We know someone who lost friends. We know someone else who has since been threatened. And the same things are happening around the world all the time. All of which makes me wonder how we gain more tolerance of others when so many think their actions are justified and right.
I like to think that maybe novelists play a very small role in expanding the minds of others to view things through others’ points of view – to show the way in which conflicts and differences can be overcome. It seems like a very small contribution – but then maybe that’s what it takes from all of us – to make a small contribution in whatever corner of the world we live to make our planet a better place.
Coming soon. . .