Barry Soper: Kiwis make themselves proud after Christchurch terror attack

Author
Barry Soper,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 20 March 2019, 7:34AM
Flower tributes at Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Photo / Michael Craig.
Flower tributes at Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Photo / Michael Craig.

COMMENT

New Zealanders should be proud of themselves. While a sense of deep sorrow pervades the country, we've risen above lashing out at the perpetrator or where he's from, although the fact he's not one of us helps.

The procession leading into the first Parliamentary prayer since the Christchurch massacre was a masterstroke by Speaker Trevor Mallard.

He invited several denominations to take part in what is a sacrosanct procession into the debating chamber. Parliament has never heard the likes of it before, the prayer being led by a Muslim imam in a haunting chant preaching forgiveness.

Jacinda Ardern gave a stirring tribute, praising as heroes the two country cops who forced the car of the gunman, still shooting, into a fence and dragged him out. Ardern rightly said he sought many things from his act of terror but one was notoriety and that's why she says you'll never hear her use his name. He's a terrorist, a criminal and an extremist. She implored us to speak the names of those who were lost, rather than the name of the man who took them.

She remembered the 71-year-old man who greeted the gunman at the mosque with the last words he ever spoke: "Hello brother welcome."

Simon Bridges said his visit with the Prime Minister to Christchurch the day after the shootings left him with a feeling that we have a choice - to choose fear, hate or anger or to chose compassion, love and forgiveness.

The National leader recalled a line from Martin Luther King, who said returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

Both leaders were visibly moved as they moved around Parliament during the day, struggling like most New Zealanders to hold the deep sense of sorrow within.

The reaction of this country generally with vigils being held on a daily basis, with a memorial service yet to be announced and with millions of dollars flowing into collections for the families of those who lost their lives is a testament to a caring society where good triumphs over the evil of that ghastly day.

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