It was Thursday in Christchurch. Under the peaks of the Southern Alps, the oldest established city in New Zealand lay quietly along the eastern shore of the south island.
Everything was well on Thursday in Christchurch.
Then came Friday.
Shortly after midday, Muslims were gathered in their local mosques to worship.
But in a moment, everything changed.
Their prayers were interrupted by the thunder of gunfire. Their peace turned to terror. And for the families of the murdered 49, they will never be together again.
There is a father who will never hold his child. There is a weeping baby who will never feel the warmth of his mother’s arms. There were souls knit together by love, a common bond and a common faith who are now separated by the senseless, brutal evil that fell on Christchurch.
As I write this, it is still Friday in America. The voices on the screens and in the feeds have already begun to blame others for the wicked act of the wretched man who carried out the killing. The talking heads are pointing their fingers. People in the Twitterverse are retweeting the vilest garbage from their opposition.
The angry are blaming. And the blamed are returning fire.
Of course, it is a normal response to life’s pain to lash out and place the fault for the evils around us on the villains we’ve already chosen for times such as these. We stoke our fires of hate with each new wrong we can gather.
But our hope doesn’t lie on well-placed blame. Sound bites and memes may be a temporary salve, but the ultimate solution won’t be found in viral dogma.
The Bible tells us to weep with those who weep. We must delay our anger and live for a moment in the grief of lives lost. We must reach for the trembling hand who has lost everything and hold it until the storm passes. We must give solace to those who are hurting and find it within us to feel their pain.
The easy accessibility of that witch’s brew called confirmation bias causes us to hastily pass over the truth of what is at stake.
Our lives are fleeting. And though the culture war is real and a worthy one to fight, the battle isn’t worth winning if we can’t cry for the death of the innocents. The conflict is misplaced if our hearts are cold to the casualties. We are wasting our efforts if the cost is our empathy.
Take a deep breath and step back from the rage. Allow yourself time and space to feel a portion of their loss.
And pray — yes, pray! — for the families and communities whose tears will last far beyond today.
Pray for healing.
Pray for comfort.
Pray for swift justice and lasting peace.
Pray for another Thursday in Christchurch.
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