This morning when I sat down to my breakfast I started a crossword, my first clue being:
“The —— of March, a fateful day (4)”
The answer was Ides, meaning the 15th of March, which is today’s date. It refers though to the famous day in history on which Julius Caesar was assasinated.
The clue though was to haunt me later that day, for today in New Zealand history, March 15th joined rank among the darkest days in living memory. A fateful day indeed.
New Zealand has experienced its first mass terror attack. While shootings are not unheard of here they are uncommon, and the modern version of terrorism in this post 9/11 world has never touched our shores until now.
At this point in time reports say that 49 people have died in a coordinated terror attack on two mosques in the city of Christchurch. The shootings occurred near Hagley Park, although not living in Christchurch now I do have family there and in fact my mother is from Sumner in Christchurch. On times we’ve visited I remember visiting Hagley Park, and to now hear its name connected with terrorism seems so otherworldly.
At dinner this evening the news of the attacks dominated conversation. We were at a restaurant and I overheard someone at another table say:
“New Zealand has lost its innocence”
Truly this expresses how I feel. The shores of New Zealand seem so disntcly seperate from the major cares of the world. We live in something of a bubble where although the news distresses us it doesn’t directly affect us. But now the fairytale is over and these islands have been dragged into the brutal reality of the modern world.
To my mind New Zealand has always felt like the last little corner of the world. A little place where it was ordained that terror shall never make landfall, this illusion has been wiped away and with it has gone that ignorant hopefulness for which sanctuary is always to blame.
All those affected by the tragedy directly are in my prayers. And may the morning bring with it some version of courage, for we here will wake up to a New Zealand that does not resemble the one we knew yesterday.