OPINION: Time to heal following our darkest day

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by Jo Luxton

After this month’s unprecedented act of terror, now is not the time to talk about politics. Now is the time for unity; for New Zealand to heal together.

Friday, March 15, will now forever be a day etched in New Zealand’s collective memory. On a quiet Friday afternoon, a terrorist stormed into a place of peaceful worship and took away the lives of 50 people.

That quiet Friday afternoon has become one of our darkest days.

In the face of such terror, I’ve been struck by how New Zealanders and South Cantabrians have come together to support our Muslim community. From the local vigils in Timaru and Temuka, to schools holding mufti days to raise money for the families affected, and the nationwide two minutes of silence last week; these are just a few of the ways that we are showing our support.

Putting our grief into words is so hard. Words are never enough, but I still took solace in the Prime Minister’s words to Parliament this week. I hope you can take some solace in them, too. Here’s what she said about the attack:

“For the families, it was the day that the simple act of prayer – of practising their Muslim faith and religion – led to the loss of their loved ones’ lives.

Those loved ones were brothers, daughters, fathers and children.

They were New Zealanders. They are us.

And because they are us, we, as a nation, we mourn them.

Healing words . . . Messages left on a memorial wall in Rolleston Ave, Christchurch, Christchurch. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

We feel a huge duty of care to them. We have so much we feel the need to say and to do.

One of the roles I never anticipated having, and hoped never to have, is to voice the grief of a nation.

At this time, it has been second only to securing the care of those affected, and the safety of everyone.

We cannot know your grief, but we can walk with you at every stage. We can. And we will, surround you with aroha, manaakitanga and all that makes us, us. Our hearts are heavy but our spirit is strong.”

The Prime Minister also told the story of Hati Mohemmed Daoud Nabi:

“He was the 71-year-old man who opened the door at the Al-Noor mosque and uttered the words ‘Hello brother, welcome’. His final words.

“He had no idea of the hate that sat behind the door, but his welcome tells us so much – that he was a member of a faith that welcomed all its members, that showed openness, and care.”

Jo Luxton is a Labour list MP based in Rangitata.