At difficult times we must demonstrate our compassion, connection and strength of community.
At difficult times we must demonstrate our compassion, connection and strength of community. iStock

NZ aftermath reminds us to reach out in time of need

Recently the world received news of the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand and the shockwave rippled far and wide. The murder of so many people, of all ages in a short space of time and in an environment where they had every right to feel safe gave rise to a tidal wave of emotion.

Here in Australia many felt stunned and upset such horror could be imposed on our neighbours in a country that, like many, has embraced multiculturalism and is welcoming and inclusive of people from diverse faiths and religious backgrounds.

It also triggered an increased sense of vulnerability, particularly for those of Islamic faith, fear for their own safety and that of family and friends when simply going about their daily lives, as we all do.

Sadly, the hatred, isolation, blame and abuse across the world directed at certain groups due to their race, religion, beliefs, gender or sexual preference is nothing new. In fact, it has been around for thousands of years with different groups as the perpetrators. But what drives it?

Often it is greed, jealousy or fear but most often it is because we are ill-informed and biased and, as a result, we make assumptions about a particular group of people and then find or are fed information that fits those assumptions and they become our reality.

None of that is true however. Good and evil is represented in every group, society and demographic across the globe. Negatively labelling and denigrating an entire group and identifying them as the 'enemy' can lead to individuals buying into the propaganda and lies and lead them to take up arms, verbally and literally, against that group in whatever extreme reaction they believe to be 'just'.

There is nothing to be gained by adding hate to hate, anger to anger or fear to fear; that creates an energetic and emotionally contagious maelstrom that creates more mayhem and chaos. This is not who we are, but what can we do?

The overwhelming grief and sadness that many felt as a result was channelled into support of those affected and many communities held vigils and took a moment to remember those who died.

To me, the important thing is to remember we are all human and feel others' hurt and pain and at times like this we must demonstrate our compassion, connection and strength of community.

We all want to feel safe and live the life we choose in a caring and harmonious environment, so it is vital that we reach out in any way we can at times like this to help everyone feel reassured that we will do all we can to prevent something like this from happening here.

Rowena Hardy is a facilitator and coach at