It has taken me until now to put pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard, to express my absolute horror and sadness about the events of March 15, in Christchurch, New Zealand, a city I have lived in, now own a property in, have family members there and enjoy visiting regularly. It is hard to put into words my reaction–shock, horror, disbelief, grief and sadness. After knowing that our various family members were safe, my attention turned to those poor people, the 50 victims and their families. As the international news reports that I have access to rolled in, I found myself glued to the screen, unable to pull away, almost numb while I processed what I was seeing,
My thoughts since have swung from continued horror, grief and sadness to respect and admiration for my fellow Kiwis and in particular our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, as the world watches our country’s reaction to what has occurred. One of my colleagues here in Brazil said to me that there is always a silver lining in all events, no matter how bad and he is right. The silver lining for New Zealand will be the heightened respect, love and understanding that all Kiwis are offering to the Muslim community. For New Zealanders this has to mean a much greater awareness and understanding of this religion and the rights of all to worship in whatever manner they wish. Only good can come of this.
For me, there are two aspects that impact my world as an educator. One is the absolute importance of intentionally educating our young people to become anti-racist, globally aware, inclusive citizens of the world. Are we doing this enough? Maybe not. Secondly, the power and importance of good leadership. Jacinda Ardern is showing the world, that leadership is about doing what’s right, in a compassionate and yet decisive manner. Leadership does not need to be hard-nosed, task-orientated and autocratic. In fact, I would say that the world needs more people-focused and participative leaders. There are lessons here for all of us.