There’s a frightening intensity to the feeling of numbness. To have your brain become a cacophony of thoughts that have no way of ordering themselves. And though I was numb, I still felt something, or maybe I felt everything—rage, fear, hope. My emotions and thoughts were all over, but I remember thinking after I received the notification about the Christchurch shooting, “It has happened.”
I know I was not surprised—no, somewhere in the recess of my mind I knew we were next. I knew some hated me, my kind—as if we’re some sort of animal-like aberration—enough to consider murder of Muslims as a fulfillment of some sort of fate foretold by a glorified manifesto. How can I think otherwise when acts of terror at places of worship seem to be a symbolic rite of passage for white supremacists? We had the shooting at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, the shooting in the church in South Carolina, and the shooting at the synagogue in Pennsylvania. Now, there is the shooting at mosques in New Zealand. And suddenly, a horrifying thought floats through, “Who is next?”
The problem is obvious. In truth, it has always been obvious. We should not hesitate to point our fingers at white supremacy and nationalism as the root of these religious and racial attacks we see today. Before, white supremacy materialized itself in colonialism, Nazi ideology, and segregation. Those systems were torn down (but not without leaving lasting effects) when people realized several decades later that they were reprehensible, only to move onto the next white supremacist ideology. Supremacy, regardless of whatever guise it dons, only serves to alienate and dehumanize the ‘other.’ But there is no ‘other’; we are all human: We laugh, we cry, we bleed—and when we are shot by a semiautomatic rifle, we die.
It is at times like these, when the world is trembling, that we must come together to offer our shoulders and to lean against those offered to us. We must find human warmth to remind ourselves that there is love and kindness in the grips of our hands. And as we find comfort, we must go beyond empty condolences; we must offer solutions. Prime Minister Ardern has already agreed to change the gun laws of New Zealand. On the other hand, we who have had multiple shootings still argue while hiding behind the Second Amendment as if safety and the sanctity of life is a partisan issue.
My thoughts as I write this are no more clearer than they were when I first heard of the shooting at the Christchurch mosques. But there is something therapeutic to writing my personal thoughts and ramblings, to control that fear and horror I feel. I still cannot truly understand it—that there are those who willingly, and with joy, take the lives of others. But that is the nature of senseless violence—there is no justification for it.
Joe Biden tweeted earlier that “silence is complicity” and I refuse to be complicit.
– Ufaira Shaik