New Zealand Mosque Shooting
It might look like I’m simply jumping on the bandwagon but last week’s shooting at two mosques in New Zealand has got my mind in hyperdrive. First, though I wasn’t going to mention it here, I stated on Facebook before this horrific act about how the British media ignored an awful school shooting in Brazil and that had it happened in the US, there would have been tons of coverage by said media. What happened in New Zealand totally dwarfs this. The shooting has the full attention of just about every media in the world.
Full credit to the New Zealand government, they banned the sale of assault rifles in the nation just two days after the tragedy. Had it been in the US, no such action would have been remotely taken, just the usual ‘thoughts and prayers’ rhetoric. There still would have been no restriction on guns and it would be debated and then go away, like always.
What the shooting did for me personally was to make me reflect upon my own misgivings and prejudice towards the Muslim faith. Not long ago, I swallowed the sensationalism from certain right of centre UK newspapers that suggest that all Muslims are coming to the West and are out to kill infidels in their beds, fly the flag of Islam from State capitals and have all women wearing burkas. I know now not to judge an entire race or faith on the actions of a few misguided individuals in them and I apologize for my ignorance. After all, I wouldn’t want to associated with the bigoted white supremacist who carried out this shooting.
A big factor in helping see my error was actually talking to people of the faith. Supply teaching in cities like Bristol, Swindon and Gloucester have enabled me to meet and converse with colleagues who are of that faith. My first instance was many years ago, when I was supply teaching at the school where the secretary was in a full burka. Admittedly, I was a little surprised at the time when she initiated conversation with me, asking me about America. That was when I realized, though it should have been sooner, there was a human being beneath the burka. Since then, I have met quite a few other teachers of the faith, most of them women and while not in a burka, still dress according to Islamic codes. Most wear the head scarf and like the secretary in the burka, I realize that they shared the same commitment to education that I did and they weren’t different, except for their following of a faith. My point is that conversation is a valuable tool in tearing down the walls of ignorance and prejudice.
On a less serious note, the New Zealand shooting has also given my an avenue to shamelessly plug my last book “He Was Weird.” One truly disgusting aspect of the shooting was the fact the shooter had a mini cam and recorded his entire rampage on Facebook. Fortunately, Mark doesn’t do that when he carries out his own rampage on his school and those who bullied him. However, after his big day, his Dying Declaration is discovered on his Facebook page, citing those who played the biggest roles in wrecking his life and that he was going to get revenge on them.
If nothing else, understanding can be achieved by simply talking to people.