On the 15th of March I sat in the early morning sunshine and heard a statement that startled me and which I immediately rejected. This was as I listened to Maja Angelou and delighted in her grace, courage and forgiveness. She asked that we as humans consider the famous quote by Terence “I am a Human being, nothing human can be alien to me.” She begged me to consider that any act, good or evil, if a human being did it then I as a human have in me all the components that are in that human. When we become aware and acknowledge what humans are capable of then we are able to actively use our energies with intention constructively rather than destructively. Little did I know that I would be forced into thinking about this statement even more a short time later that day.
In the wake of the latest attack on religious faith a wave of grief has fallen over our beautiful country and the kind souls within it. The world has expressed shock that this could ever have happened in this country. I have sat with people shaken and despairing and have heard more times than I can count the ways that people are attempting to remove themselves from the killers, and the killers from them.
It’s taken a range of guises; ‘He’s not a kiwi’, ‘He’s Australian’, ‘He’s a skinhead’, ‘As a mass murderer he is seeking fame don’t feed it’. I’ve called the killers out as being less evolved and unconscious beings.
There are the frames of support on social media as people are swept up time and again in the hurt that humanity is feeling. It’s palpable, I can see it on the faces, in the anxious words and in the agonised energy. The frame that strikes me most is the one that reads ‘This is not who we are!’ because I can’t help wondering who the ‘who’ is. Is it New Zealand? Because it is with sadness that I note it is who we are, it happened and it is irreversible. Or is it humans? Because again I note with certainty that this is who we are, whether Kiwi, Australian, American, male or female we have shown ourselves as a species very capable of atrocities.
So actually this is who we are, because we are human and the one who acted was a human. If we can open our mind to that then perhaps we can connect and see more clearly and prevent these acts. I totally understand trying to disengage from the horror but we are all human and when one part of that humanity becomes disconnected then they act in a way that doesn’t support the organism but instead as a cancer that begins to destroy it.
I have watched a friend battle with cancer of the skin. He had to become incredibly aware of what his body was doing so that he knew when the cancer cell appeared and he was able to treat it. If he had tried to remove himself from the organism that is his body he would have been unable to see clearly what was occurring and the mutation would have gone on to be incurable. Instead he is healing his skin and noticing when something else arises that needs to be treated. Instead of turning his face away from the mirror he is looking closely and openly.
This is true of the wonder and joy as well that is inherent in our nature. Lets not forget that. Kindness is all around us and we are powerfully holding space for those who are folding in grief. There is compassion and intelligence in this organism of humanity. That is surely why each member is feeling the pain of the lives lost so acutely, because we are human. All of us. Regardless of our labels and the communities closest to us. To attack one another for our differences is as nonsensical as a leg kicking out at an arm because it has fingers and not toes.