Harmony Day today (or the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination) for me this year is timely. Last weeks mass shootings in Christchurch left me reeling….and sad beyond words.
Sad for the loss of innocent lives. Sad that people can be capable of such horrific things. Sad that I am shocked, but only because this happened in New Zealand.
A country where I created my first home. Still have a home. Where my children were born. Where I have felt the most safe and welcomed in my life. A modern New Zealand that, to me, has always been accepting, cognisant of human rights and compassionate....qualities which are now so wonderfully and consistently being demonstrated by NZ’s Prime Minister, and its people.
I truly hope that the counties in rest of the world will sit up and take notice. Maybe even take New Zealand’s lead.
The values of Harmony Day - respect and belonging while celebrating cultural diversity - are noble, but should not be limited to specific amounts of time.
For we are part of all human kind. We all have the capacity to demonstrate the level of empathy, kindness and tolerance that should pervade the whole world. Everyone of us, regardless of race, or religion.
For surely enough is enough. We are better than this.
If we stand silent in the face of hatred, we affirm it.
If we let bigotry go unanswered, we fail the test of our own humanity.
I have taught my children that we need to treat people with respect and equality. To recognise and accept their differences. To be inclusive and welcome diversity and the value that it can bring.
If we do this, then just maybe we can turn the tide on racism and intolerance. Create a better place than what we live in today.
For us, and for all our children.