Tag Archive: peace


Paste up in Paraparaumu today

Stay Strong

in the bonds of love we meet

Kia Kaha Otautahi, Stay Strong Christchurch, is a recurring theme in the outpouring of grief and love happening in New Zealand in response to the attacks of 15 March 2019 at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre that killed 50 and injured 50 more.

In the Christian tradition this is the season of Lent, a time to remember Jesus’ 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. The word “Lent” comes from the old English, “lencten,” which means “spring.” What struggle takes place in this desert? What are the questions we wrestle with? What are the demons we wrestle with? What spring might arise in this desert?

The saying “Kia Kaha Christchurch” came into use after the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 that decimated the city centre and in which many lives were lost. It was used by committed friends and family to affirm and encourage each other in rebuilding their lives and their city. We say ‘stay strong’ because the people of Christchurch are not strangers to death or loss, nor resiliency.

We say ‘stay strong’ because members of our Muslim community and all people of colour face experiences of racism, hate speech, violence and vilification every day, those of Muslim faith are not strangers to death or loss, nor resiliency.

We say ‘stay strong’ calling everyone impacted into the best truth of ourselves and our beliefs because we all know that it is easier in these times to hate, and be angry, than to love. And we rise.

 

love beats fear melbourne vigil for christchurch

 

Rallies against racism, vigils and tributes of flowers outside mosques are happening across New Zealand and around the world. Faith leaders of different religions, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, and Hindu, lead these gatherings in prayer in many different languages.

islamic council of victoria open day 2019 A mere two days after the shooting, the Islamic Council of Victoria go ahead with their annual mosque open day – opening their doors and sharing with guests their faith and culture. Opening their hearts to those grieving and with questions to which no one knows an answer, like: ‘Why did this happen?

Their own hearts must be sore and grieving, and their actions speak yet to welcome, hospitality and courage. Choosing this, is spring.

Australian social commentator Waleed Aly in a poignant statement shares that the gunman was greeted “Welcome, brother” upon arriving at the mosque, those within were gathered kneeling, in silent communal prayer. They would be facing Mecca and have their backs to the door, unaware of any danger. And they will do this next Friday, and the Friday after that, and every Friday.   Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, has announced that today’s Muslim call to prayer will be broadcast nationally on TV and radio and a two minute silence will be held as, nationally, we want to reclaim and hold that space as safe and sacred.  We say ‘stay strong’ but this doesn’t mean you have to do it on your own. We know we are stronger together.

Choosing this, is spring.

te aroha kiwis and muslim sing togetherIn the bonds of love we meet” (cover image) is a line from New Zealand’s national anthem and is on the banner I carry to a vigil. It is a signal to other New Zealanders where I am from and many give that head tilt of acknowledgement or stop to say “kia ora”.

The vigil leaders say from the front: “If you’re comfortable, hug or shake hands with the people nearest you” and, in this moment, in hugging one Muslim ,I feel I am hugging all Muslims; to hug one Kiwi, it feels I am hugging all Kiwis. Choosing this, is spring.

The vigil is over and people are drifting away to make their way home. A remnant of us gather to sing: people of different faiths, different cultures, speaking different languages. We sing for over an hour… Te Aroha (see image above for lyrics), the NZ national anthem in English and Maori,  John Lennon’s Imagine, and  Dave Dobbyn’s Welcome Home. (written in response to seeing anti-racism protests in Christchurch back in 2005). His words and melody are just as now poignant as they were then. What an extraordinary and beautiful thing to come of something so awful. Choosing this, is spring.

Meet in the bonds of love. Stay strong.

Choosing this, is spring.

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Images and moments from the Christchurch vigil in Melbourne hosted by the Islamic Council of Victoria at the State Library…    #chooselovenothate

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and other religious leaders led those gathered in prayer.

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

K and I meet early in the vigil when she invites me to stand with her family.

K: I think New Zealanders are taking it harder actually. Muslims… we’re used to it. When I first heard, I assumed it was Muslims against Muslims. I guess we’re desensitized maybe. Things like this happen to Muslims all the time.

T: But how awful… that this should happen so often that you could become desensitized to it. Things like this rarely happen in NZ.

K: For us, they are all martyrs.

T: Is it an honour, to die this way?

K: No… It is still a pain. It means a lot that New Zealanders feel that with us… are you from Christchurch?

T: No, Wellington. But I still feel it. What you need to understand about us is that once you’ve welcomed someone onto the marae, they’re not a guest anymore – they’re family.  I don’t need to have ever met them. This week all New Zealanders grieve because we have lost members of our family.

…we hug, and stand together through the vigil.

They say from the front, if you’re comfortable, hug or shake hands with the people nearest you, and in this moment: all Muslims are hugged, all Kiwis are hugged. I hope you feel that.

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowerschristchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

A group of us sing – Muslims and Kiwis together… Te aroha, the national anthem in English and Maori “…in the bonds of love we meet“, Dave Dobbyn’s Welcome Home and John Lennon’s Imagine… what an extraordinary and beautiful thing to come of something so awful.

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

Tutira mai nga iwi, (Line up together, people)
tatou tatou e (All of us, all of us)
Tutira mai nga iwi, (Stand in rows, people)
tatou tatou e (All of us, all of us)
Whai-a te marama-tanga, (Seek after knowledge)
me te aroha – e nga iwi! (And love of others – everybody!)
Ki-a tapatahi, (Be really virtuous)
Ki-a ko-tahi ra (And stay united)
Tatou tatou e (All of us, all of us)

 

This is your home and you should have been safe here

by Wellington artist Ruby Jones

MASIL land struggle

‘To those who say, “But I didn’t take your land” I reply, “Are we going to be honorable ancestors?”‘

MASIL is a historic exchange between Indigenous Mapuche activists in Chile/Argentina and Aboriginal activists in Australia.

The goals of the MASIL Project are:

  • To establish face to face contact and dialogue and build links between Indigenous communities protecting their lands.
  • To document all the work that is carried out and
  • To produce a documentary of approximately 60 minutes duration, for distribution in Australia and internationally.

 

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Saturday 19 May 2018, Palestinians and solidarity activists gathered and walked together – reaching for peace – to remember The Nakba.  The Nakba is ‘the catastrophe’, the year when the Israeli state forcibly expelled three quarters of the Palestinian population from their villages and homes. This was one of the first acts in an ongoing process of ethnic cleansing and dispossession of Palestinians from their lands.

The catastrophe continues, 70 years on, fueled this week by the inflammatory choice of the Trump government to move the US embassy to East Jerusalem, and then the killing of dozens and injuring of 2,400+ Palestinians gathered to protest the move and what it  symbolises for their future.  The UN proposed a motion for an independent inquiry into the Gaza violence… many countries abstained. Only two vote to oppose it: the US and… Australia. Why Australia?  It seems telling that Naarm Melbourne should be at the walk in solidarity.

Occupied but unconquered.  Long live the intifada!

I have to look that one up, intifada, and Wiki tells me its “an Arabic word literally meaning, as a noun, “tremor”, “shivering”, “shuddering”. It is derived from an Arabic term nafada meaning “to shake”, “shake off”, “get rid of”, as a dog might shrug off water, or as one might shake off sleep,or dirt from one’s sandals”. This brings Matthew 10:14 to mind: If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave. There is no welcome, there is no listening, there is no where else for the people of Palestine to go.  Intifada “is a key concept in contemporary Arabic usage referring to a legitimate uprising against oppression. It is often rendered into English as “uprising”, “resistance”, or “rebellion”.” Today, that resistance and strong spirit to live was carried in the hands and voices, and marching feet of Palestinians and their children. Today, hope was carried in the hands and voices, and marching feet of Palestinians and their children.

 

From here, in Melbourne Australia, it is difficult to comprehend what is happening in Gaza. It’s not a war of the military and armies (bad enough) – but non-combatant ordinary people trying to go to school and work and live life behind fences.  It’s likened to apartheid in South Africa and comparisons drawn to the Berlin Wall, but we have not learned from these atrocities.  What will be the story of how history remembers the Palestine-Israel conflict?  Who will be seen as the oppressors and the oppressed? What might reconciliation and restorative justice look like in this land because I know my freedom is bound to yours. In this way Israel need to understand that their freedom is tied to Palestines’ and the freedom of Palestine to that of Israel.

From the front, a speaker says:

Palestinians are fighting for their lives, Palestinians are humans, we are humans, we are Palestine.

And I wonder whether maybe the solution is there somewhere… in the call to our common humanity.

I seek a piece

I seek peace piece inside my soul I seek a piece peace to make me whole Talitha Fraser poem

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The Oratory glows golden for a moment. Lit by wintery midday sun. Behind the lids of my prayerfully closed eyes it seems the light filling the room is the same light filling me and I turn my face to Your warmth.

We light candles. Mine is a confession.