An evolving response… Christchurch, Friday 15 March 2019

a partial and ongoing response Friday’s terrorist attacks on mosques in Christchurch – 50 killed, many more wounded.
An evolving response…
[slightly edited for clarity & scansion]
I’ve got the temporary slogan and I’ve posted of forgiveness
and I’ve tried to keep myself out of the space of actual victims,
and I have a friend who’s Muslim and I’m glad he’s in Malaysia ‘though I’d also like to hug him, and say, “this is not New Zealand”.
Yet I have to ask, would we have said, “Yes, they are us,
of course they are!” last Thursday?
And if someone in shalwar qameez fired on my congregation,
would I feel consoled or terrified, if my church filled up with Muslims
offering the will of Allah, and strange food, and their emotions—
or would it overwhelm and scare me, never mind their good intentions?
And will we still be saying, “They are us” next year, when someone
in a burkha wants to leave it on in court;
and when a turban-wearing guy sits down beside us with his backpack;
and in ten years’ when clothes shops stock a wide jilbab selection?
And in twenty years when that young boy affected by the trauma
thinks his elders are too soft for their accepting and forgiveness
when he joins an online group recruiting bruised young men as radicals—
when he’s tempted by “Jihad Cool” stuff, and bitter,
will we say, “He’s us” and love him?
And I hope the answer’s yes to these and other awkward questions
and I know we need to act as if forgiveness is the answer
and we know the way to peace is not through brute retaliation—
but I still find myself asking, did we say “They’re us—
and we are them” last Thursday?
© Bronwyn Angela White, March 2019