Over the last two weeks I have watched a huge out pouring of grief. I have seen and participated in very sombre services for the dead and with more to come, it is time to address how we may best support the victims of the attack in the long term. It is too late for the dead, but not for stopping any future attacks.
Whilst all of this is great and shows a compassionate and caring society, it is somewhat short term. If we are to deal with the hazard the gunman and anyone aspiring to be like him, then we must look at the social environment that spawns terrorism in the first place.
The best thing we can honestly do to support the victims of the Christchurch terrorist attack is go forward espousing and being everything the gunman never wanted us to be about:
- Working towards a sort of utopia
- Tolerance of diversity
- Dealing with injustices
- Free from fear
Dystopia is the negative reversal of utopia. It is a society imagined or otherwise of suffering, considered undesirable or scary. Unfortunately in some countries – the United States, Russia, China, France, Australia, Hungary and Britain being notable examples – a dystopian future is becoming a real prospect. All of these countries have either influential groups stoking discontent, or large Government projects such as the Chinese data profiling, which is being used to build up profiles of individual Chinese citizens on a massive scale. The profile, if the outcome is negative, can then automatically deny them social assistance, passports, medical assistance and a disturbingly large range of other essentials.
The gunman wanted a dystopian society where a distrust of people, organizations, authorities and society at large is a good thing to have. In a dystopian society, compassion for others, for minorities and is discouraged, and one is perceived to be surrendering to the “enemy”, which is never quite revealed. A survivalist mentality can take hold, which can lead to accumulating weapons, joining organizations like the National Front and other supremacist groups.
Tolerance of diversity is one of the reasons why New Zealand was attacked. For years we have been seen as a nation that respects and welcomes newcomers from all countries. Contrary to what many people believe all are screened by Immigration New Zealand before they arrive, so this idea of anyone coming in willy nilly is quite wrong, not to mention misleading. An asylum seeker or refugee will be taken to the Mangere facility, where they will be held whilst I.N.Z. process their claim, and ascertain whether the intelligence agencies or the Police have any concerns about them.
Injustices that have been knowingly committed and are deliberately left to fester, are dangerous for several reasons. Some are historical ones that have been passed down the generations, such as the confiscation or land or other property; abuses of a particular group – acts like this, where no compensation or recognition become grievances. Out of grievance comes a desire to resist any (c)overt moves to enact laws or carry out activities that might worsen it.
This is why I am pleased that New Zealand has taken steps in recent years to address injustices and continue to do so. Is this country perfect? Nope, and the world will be watching to see what it can learn from our approach.
Terrorism is built on fear. The whole premise of terrorism is to terrorise, which means instilling fear, distrust of people, of organizations of authorities and the government. Fear is the fundamental building block in a destabilized society. The sentiment is one of “They” are your enemy. They want your land, your home, your job, your life.
This is why in order to defeat terrorism a nation, a region, city or otherwise must not ever give into fear. When one gives into fear, they stop their daily routines – it might be going to pray, or taking your child to the park or going to certain places or meeting certain people. That can become toxic.