A Letter About the New Zealand Shooting

I heard about the tragic news of the Christchurch shooting when I was on Spring Break and remember thinking how horrible it was. Why shoot innocent people of a religion that is so much about love and peace? Why during their prayers? I was so stricken with grief thinking about all of the orphans, survivors and victims of the shooting.

Last month, I attended the Muslim Student Association vigil and listened to all those who spoke. I lit a candle for the 51 who couldn’t practice their faith anymore. These were the same people who supported my faith so heavily when we needed it most following the Pittsburgh shooting in October. My Hillel group came and offered solidarity because, after that, MSA needed love and solidarity and we understood. No matter our race, religion, whatever—they needed our love.

That brings me to my next point. Honestly, one of these tragic incidents will most likely happen again. A MSA student said chances are they may be having another vigil on Tate Plaza in the future. The only solution? We need change. We need tolerance. Everyone needs to show support and acceptance of other faiths—not just after a shooting either—but always. There needs to be better education of different faiths, an understanding that we are more than the stereotypes. Stereotypes do not define us. We need to reach out to our neighbors and start a real conversation to get connections flowing. “Why are those your beliefs?” “How is it important to you?”—instead of fighting words and violence. We need to talk about various topics to broaden our understanding and realize other religions don’t make us different. They are not the ______ community; they’re our community. We all belong together, and we honestly need to start showing it. We need peace, love and action. At the end of the day, it is easier to practice love than it is to hate. Think about it. Inclusion, doesn’t that sound nice?

I’m so sorry to Christchurch, New Zealand and all those of Muslim faith, including those in MSA. I’ll support you no matter what.

Image Source: Muslim Student Association of UGA