Editorial: Be kind in times of dark despair

By Katie Shevlin

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A counterterrorism officer walks his bomb-sniffing dog past a makeshift memorial for victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting in front of the Stonewall Inn. Photo / AP/Kathy Willens
A counterterrorism officer walks his bomb-sniffing dog past a makeshift memorial for victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting in front of the Stonewall Inn. Photo / AP/Kathy Willens

The news has been particularly disheartening lately. I brace myself as the clock ticks closer to six o'clock, wondering what fresh horror we will be shown today.

Violence in Marseille, gang rape in Brazil, Syria still burning, and now another despicable act of terror in the US. It's enough to make you lose faith in humanity. But these abhorrent acts, demonstrative of the worst of human nature, bring out the best in people, too. In the darkness shine small but significant rays of light.

Having read story after story about the horrific attack in Orlando, my heart swelled reading about the acts of kindness that the same incident had brought about. The Orlando police chief who sent an email to his staff reminding them to hug their families. Whole communities across the globe coming together to show their support for the victims. The father of a victim choosing to forgive the shooter because he "cannot live with such great hatred".

In contrast, a remark similar to that which we have come to expect from Donald Trump was this time heard in New Zealand Parliament. New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said the attack in Orlando was the result of "loose security and border controls" which also existed in New Zealand. He said: "In short ... we are inviting that problem in our country by the looseness and the cavalier attitude we are taking as a country to matters of security."

It is easy to place blame. It is only natural to want someone to blame. But to use an attack like the one that took place in Orlando as an argument against immigration is disgraceful.

To tarnish refugees escaping from war-torn countries with the same brush as an allegedly mentally ill extremist is the kind of rhetoric that Isis thrives on. This is their aim. To make us point fingers. To ignite paranoia. And it is incredibly important to not let the actions of a few people lead to bitterness. Hatred must not create more hatred.

So, when six o'clock rolls round, let what you see serve as a reminder to spread some kindness in the world.

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