Grieve, but do not let easy solutions put your grief to bed. Once the initial tears dry, it will be time to find a new, resolute headspace and get down to work so that Aotearoa truly is a place where this cannot happen.
In the wake of this attack, we feel uniquely powerless. This was someone who planned. They made this abhorrent act their mission, and they arranged contingencies. The police, the intelligence community, courts and others will be under the spotlight in the wake of this attack, but the sad reality is that there was an imbalance of power here: this was the shooter’s recent life, 24/7, and anyone that committed to violence and minimally competent will usually find a way to achieve it.
For now, we grieve. Some call for the death penalty. Others for a lifetime in prison. Others for more gun control, better background checks, expanding the security apparatus. Our grief needs an easy outlet, a path to flow into that will give us some measure of comfort. So we shout, we swear, we cry and we punch the walls. We feel weak, so we respond with strength. Anger and frustration are normal. They are necessary.
But we need to keep our grief in perspective.
We have lost 49 people, in, yes, a cowardly terrorist attack that affects us all. None of our anger can bring them back. Nothing that happens to the shooter and their accomplices now can make amends or give satisfaction to our grief.
We should not give a shit whether the shooter thinks they’ve “won” or not. This is not a competition or a game. What matters is that we do not lose ourselves in the face of their hatred and violence.
They chose to kill. We chose, and must continue to choose, to be better. They chose to kill the innocent. Our society has chosen to spare even the most guilty. This is not about the sadistic, broken arsehole who perpetrated this assault. This is now about us, and who we will be.
So let your grief flow. Cry, scream and wish the shooter dead. Pray, laugh, listen, love and live: grieve as you must, in its many legitimate forms. But as we move through our grief, we also need to leave behind the easy solutions. They satisfy in the moment, but are ultimately too shallow to do justice to our dead.
Lisa, me, and most of our networks are wondering how we can be better. How we can drive initiatives to challenge ourselves as a society, and target some of the underlying issues that nurture and enable harmful ideologies to mature into action. Because the shooter – uniquely culpable as they are – is also a product of the status quo, which makes them our responsibility too.
Grieve, but do not let easy solutions put your grief to bed. Once the initial tears dry, it will be time to find a new, resolute headspace and get down to work so that this truly is a place where this cannot happen.