Some thoughts on atmospheric conditions, focus and the illusion of isolation

In the aftermath of Friday’s massacre at two Christchurch mosques, I am struggling to find ways to verbalise the sorrow and anguish I feel.

I remembered writing this post, and quoting John Donne’s Meditation, which conveys so beautifully my thoughts and feelings.

But when I read the post, I also realised how smug and privileged was my assertion of NZ as a “safe place”.

One of the things that is becoming clear since Friday, is that for many, New Zealand is far from safe. The Muslim community has been trying for years to make those in charge understand how much hatred and discrimination and violence its members experience every day.

And they are not alone.

If anything good can come of the hideous violence that killed fifty people and forever changed the lives of countless others, it must be a widespread recognition that our PM’s declaration — “this is not who we are” — is, at best — “this is not who we want to be.”

If we accept that, and refuse to accept hatred and extremism, we can perhaps become a safe place for everyone.


Image-1 All it takes is a change of focus to see what lies beyond us. Raindrops on Loropetalum chinense (chinese fringe flower) leaves. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

I woke this morning to find the world beyond my street has disappeared.

A mist has rolled across the harbour and made an island of this, slightly elevated, piece of land I call home. Beyond the neighbours’ roofs, a stand of macrocarpa trees fades softly into a flat, grey void.

The still air carries the sound of motorway traffic in the distance, but like shapes in the mist, the sound is muffled and indistinct — a mere hint of life beyond this temporary island.

For this time I am alone; the drivers, dog-walkers, joggers and cyclists either still at home or invisible to me.

For this time I can enjoy the quiet and solitude, the safety and peace, of my island. Soon it will…

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22 thoughts on “Some thoughts on atmospheric conditions, focus and the illusion of isolation

  1. I certainly don’t want to add to your sorrow but I found much comfort in a short sequence of Stephen Colbert’s Late Night Show which, merci to YT, I was allowed to ‘consume’.
    And I would be equally shocked if tragedies like that one would happen in my country. All I think in such moments is that I’m truly living a ‘protected life’….


  2. Isolation, like so much else, can be positive or negative. We all need times of solitude to regroup, ponder, heal. But to completely isolate is counterproductive as well. New Zealand has been blessed to be free of this evil for so long, but evil is everywhere unfortunately. No place will ever be free from the possibility of this sort of evil. But we have to do whatever we can to push back and “fight” against it, even though we will never completely change the hearts and minds of everyone. To do nothing is to let them win.


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  3. I have never had any illusions about the US being safe—for anyone. When you grow up with three political assassinations (JFK, RFK, and MLK), four students shot by our own National Guard, African Americans lynched and hosed for asserting their rights, 9/11, school shootings, and so on, you know that there is no such thing as safe. But I did hold out hope that there were places in the world, NZ among them, that were safer and more tolerant. I guess violence and racism and hatred are sadly everywhere.

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    • Thank you Amanda. I have just heard that legislation to ban assault rifles should be passed through our parliament very soon and this feels like a very positive step in the right direction. But I guess only time will tell whether we really grasp the opportunity to create a better NZ, or slip back into the old ways.

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  4. I admit that I didn’t know before that the Muslim community in NZ feels so isolated and confronted with so much hatred. Somehow I guess my mind made up some sort of fairy tale for NZ although of course I know that this is not how life is – anywhere. It seems the scale has tipped from hope to despair now. But I truly think that most people are not filled with hatred, it’s only that we need to make ourselves be heard more. Just look at the news – horrible people doing horrible things always dominate them. It’s not enough anymore that good people simply are good, their voices must be heard too.

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