I have always considered myself to be an earth-spirit being not particularly aligned with New Zealand or any country. I have traveled all over the world and always felt at peace wherever I was/am.
However, given the recent events in Christchurch, with tears pouring from my heart, I uttered these words, “I am so proud to be a New Zealander.” Something I have never thought or spoken before. My pride and tears arise because:
First, for our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ahern. She has shown the most powerful and poignant of all the feminine attributes. Her tender compassion has been all embracing. Her respect and inclusiveness has been humbling. Her fierceness in immediately protecting all of New Zealand citizens with reformed gun laws. She has cried tears of sorrow and she has spoken fiercely, and She has been heard!
And the women of New Zealand, I am so proud of you. A woman doctor in Auckland was told by a Muslim woman that she feared for her life as her hijab made her a living target. Wanting to support her Muslim sister the doctor took counsel with two different Muslim organizations, requesting she take up a headscarf in solidarity. It was agreed that a headscarf (as distinct from the traditional hijab) would be a sign of support, honor, and respect. And so the movement of #headscarfforharmony and #scarvesforsolidarity was born.
Thousands of New Zealand women honored their Muslim sisters and brothers on the first Friday anniversary of the slayings by wearing the headscarf. Policewomen also wore headscarves and a red rose in support. The Muslim call to prayer was nationally broadcast from NZ radios and televisions and the country came together in 2 minutes of silence. “This is your Home. We are One.” The words of Jacinda Ahern at the gathering.
Now something else I must say. Growing up in NZ we were completely xenophobic. Anybody different was ostracized, oh so nicely of course as we are nice folks. We had a strict non-immigration policy and simply weren’t used to other different people, and even the odd stray Dutch family (descendants from the first settlers), were still viewed as strange and outsiders. Little did we know the Maori people were viewing us in the same way. Ah, such ignorance!
Biker gangs were a common presence growing up and they were ferocious. You knew to not even look at them let alone talk or deal with them in any way. They were a menacing and violent presence.
As for Muslims. Growing up I did not even know of their existence.
And now, look how far we have come. Unarmed bikers forming protection chains around mosques and doing traditional hakas for those who were slain. Our immigration policy open to refugees and Muslims. Thousands of people pouring out in support, each in their own way.
Yes, with so many tears I stand proudly these days as a Kiwi, and say, I am so proud of you all. Thank you for leading the way in True World and Human Compassion!!