I happen to have been born in Christchurch, New Zealand, scene of the horrific cold-blooded mass murder of 50 local Muslims last week. I grew up and went to university there. And absorbed all the elements of a peace-loving country that’s proud that its cops don’t generally carry guns.

New Zealand is their home. "They. Are. Us."

I say “happen” to have been born in Christchurch because statistically my chances of being born Chinese or Indian or in some other more populous country were far greater. And that’s the point. The recent massacre in Christchurch is about all of us, wherever we came from. We don’t get to choose where we’re born, our skin colour, or our religion in many cases. What happened in Christchurch has happened in other places (including Canada) and could happen anywhere, and to any targeted group (Muslims, Christians, Jews, gays and lesbians, and so on).

We should call this for what it is: the weaponization of intolerance, fed by ignorance, bigotry and hate.

First, we need to get rid of the physical weapons because they just magnify the slaughter and offer no second chance, no way back. Who needs a semi-automatic? I doubt even a sportsman does. Give me a break! Background checks need to be beefed up, big time. Gun ownership should be a responsibility not a right.

The harder challenge is to break down the barriers that we’ve erected between ourselves. It’s absurd when you think that the DNA of the human species is very close no matter where you come from, whatever your specific gene pool. But erect barriers we have done. Anybody who looks different or acts differently, or speaks a different language becomes a target: the Other. Crusaders, Infidels, Jews, Muslims.

And yet when we get to know each other, talk to each other, play sports with each other, the barriers break down and we realise that we are all very similar. Diversity is a strength not a weakness. And we should punish those who seek to inflame prejudice and take advantage of it for political purposes.  

I am proud to join my fellow Kiwis in saying this has got to stop. And to echo the New Zealand call that this cowardly attack is an attack on all of us.
“They. Are. Us.”