Five Days after the Christchurch Shootings: Subversive Compassion

Five Days after the Christchurch Shootings: Subversive Compassion March 20, 2019

As I read the international response to the Christchurch mosque shootings,  I find some Americans (#notallamericans) over-busy trying to fit into their heads the possibility that our community response to this terrible event is to draw together and offer compassion and peace in spite of our differences.

It’s a subversive act to take such a vicious event meant to highlight ‘us’ and ‘them, and then refuse to be vicious.  It’s a tough act, to turn our attention away from the perpetrator and refuse to use his name, or dignify his politics with attention to his agenda.  Sure, we’ve got a conversation awaiting us about white supremacy and the insidious legacy of racism that colonial white supremacy left us with.   That will come.

But in the mean time,  all of the usual boundaries are being wonderfully transgressed.

At churches on Sunday we heard, ‘As-salamu alaykum’. At our local LDS meeting the Stake President talked about the Five Pillars of Islam. Māori blessings are being offered on mosques. Gangs alongside police are protecting the sacred spaces of Muslims.

What, I’m saying is that it’s not weak, fluffy headed, liberal, left-wing stuff. It’s by far the toughest response to bring all inside the tent, reserving the top tables and chief seats for the stranger and the outcast.

It’s tough, tough stuff to be willing to cross divides, surrender the cultural ground to another we’ve been taught to either fear or ignore.

Now, if that causes some Americans (#notallamericans) to lose their shit, its no wonder. America’s political, economic and cultural ground thrives on competition and on whose ideas are better than whose.

Even the veneration of Jacinda Ardern in the US buys into this idea that as a supposed icon she is now ahead of the competition with other world leaders.

Jacinda Ardern is a New Zealander first and foremost. She’s not interested in competing with other world leaders for the top spot (whatever that is).

She’s serving the community, as she was elected to do.
We are serving each other, as we as a community should.

There’s no subversive liberal agenda here. At the apex of all spiritual traditions, including Christianity, the aspirations of peace and love are foremost. God or the Divine is seen as the source of that peace and love.

And in New Zealand by some alchemy of the collective we have decided that our reaction to this atrocity is to simply be good Muslims.


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