From the Principal
The recent shootings in New Zealand have challenged us all. The particulars of the incident and the breadth of reporting have combined to mean that there has been a saturation of information for our young people and an inability to escape the sense of tragedy. Despite a remarkable display of leadership from Jacinda Arden, the event has also reignited some old rivalries and prejudices around matters of race and faith.
At a recent assembly I “gave up my spot” at the microphone and asked School Captain, Anna Findlay, to address the school instead. Below is her speech to the school in the wake of the Christchurch massacre.
I commend her speech and sentiments to you as reminders of our shared humanity.
Mr Adrian Farrer
“About a year ago, I spent six weeks in Bandung, the third largest city in Indonesia. In Indonesia, approximately 88 per cent of the population identifies as Muslim. Having spent time there, I can say that there is no difference in what they are like as a community. Well that’s not actually true, sure they might wear a hijab, they might pray in a mosque, but none of that truly matters. Maybe they have a different faith. Yet we all share so much more.
Let me give two key points of what I learnt are their principles as I interpret it.
• Believe in something – it doesn’t have to be a religion per se, just have some sort of faith in something
• Any person carrying messages that might cause harm do not have support from the many
Now let me explain where I got these from.
Firstly. Believe in something; my host sister once asked me what I believe in. I honestly couldn’t answer exactly, I didn’t know what she was expecting. So I asked, ‘Do you mean religion?’. She explained, she just wanted to know what kind of a way I want to live my life, not whether I was a follower of Christianity or any other religion. It was actually a question I got a few times while in Indonesia, and I was never expected to have an answer of religion. The question wasn’t about that. It was more just to know what specific morals I value. What I value as an individual. It seemed that, to them, no-one is defined by their religion or lack thereof.
Secondly. A person wanting to do harm is not supported. I had a very long conversation with a friend about what this means. He said to me, ‘I can’t stand it, they shouldn’t represent us. This isn’t what our parents teach us. We are never told it’s okay to hurt someone and then claim support from a group who don’t even know you.’ He went on to say that he prays for them. Prays for them to realise that it is not okay and that they stop hurting people for being different.
To me, this means that the Islamic faith is one of dedication, support and respect for peace. Do you agree with these values? I suspect you do. That stance is exactly the same kind of thing that our own country would support. And it means that we are no different from each other in this sense. We allow each other to be different and yet we do not support hurting others.
We cannot let one person represent our faiths, beliefs or country if they are intending harm. But we can support those affected by those individuals. We can support each other. We can stand together to support those affected both directly and indirectly, particularly those who are suffering in New Zealand in Christchurch at this time. In times like these, there is the inevitable flood of news, on social media and in the news itself, and it is important to remember that each person will respond differently to this information. As a school and a community as well as individuals, we can do our best to show our respect for the grief other communities are experiencing.
Within our community prayer is often the way that we can express this. So, as a collective I would like us to pray.
Where hate is planted in the garden of a community,
although it is a poisonous weed;
where violence is worshipped like a god,
although it is an idol;
where faith is targeted like an enemy,
although it is a friend;
when lives are lost and hearts are broken
and neighbours of goodwill are clinging together
amid the damage done by fear,
Come to us, Spirit of hope.
Weep with us.
Make our love grow deeper.
Make our embrace grow wider.
Gather us together as sisters and brothers and friends
under your sheltering wings.