Here in Aotearoa, my husband and I were privileged and so proud to attend the Russell school strike Friday in solidarity with many schools around Northland, New Zealand and the world. The student organizers were way ahead of most adults as they freely expressed their fear about an extinction level climate crisis scenario. We felt so aroha (sorry) for them. All we could do was be there for them, listen to them, support them, and encourage them to persist with their campaigning - whatever comes.
Then, I grieved even more when the Christchurch terrorist incident later that afternoon eclipsed all the media air-time the student strike events ought to have gotten that day. I didn't grieve only for the students, but also for the kaupapa (subject) of climate crisis. It's not to pit one disaster against another for news-worthiness, or to say one is 'worse' than another, but still: as a global crisis already creating incalculable suffering and death, I grieve about why governments, the media, our education curriculum, corporates, business and industry and civil society has failed to pay our climate emergency the attention it deserves.
As reporting about the shooter unfolded, more disturbing questions began to emerge. Why are New Zealand’s gun laws so lax? Why so much security intelligence focus on Islamic extremism ‘threats’ while far-right (disproportionately) white supremacists who pose a real threat appear to be getting a free pass? And, why did warnings to the authorities about the extremist leanings of members in his affiliated rifle club go unheeded – in stark contrast to security authorities seeming only too willing to jump all over Tuhoe Māori rifle users like white on rice back in 2007 (ref “Operation 8"). Institutionally racist much?
Yes, this week’s terrorist incident raises so many specific questions. But let’s please remember: those questions are entangled with some very big questions about other crises which have been on our plate, and caused many people grief, for a long time. And it’s high time we had honest but healing “conversations” about them as well.
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