Jacinda Ardern’s message of peace – “We are one”
That exactly was her speech. That is the precis of her elegy. In memory of the dead. The dead? No! I meant those who are now living in the celestial, in the cosmic beatitude of divine provenance (Quran 3: 167).
Yes. They were murdered. In cold blood. A fortnight ago. In Christchurch, New Zealand. “We Are One”, Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minster of New Zealand countered the terrorist. That statement summarized her empathy. With the bereaved. Men. Women, Young and old. “We are one” she said. “You are all one”, Quran had said; “we are all one”!
Addressing Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, she said: “we cannot know your grief…”. Yes. She cannot. How could she or anyone of us actually know their grief? How could she know what it means losing a heartthrob? How could she know what it means losing a child? How could she know what it means losing a brother and sister? How could she know what it means losing three members of the same family in an orgy of violence and in the same place and at the same moment? How could the living know how it feels being dead?
But while it is true that knowledge of grief is deeper when it is experienced in the first person, not in the second or third, experience however teaches us that all mammals are imbued with the capacity to feel pity and show empathy. Thus one way Jacinda has sought to feel the grief visited on Christchurch is to try enter the world of the bereaved; to allow the humanity in her – her humanum – manifest itself in such effective and affective ways that it has caught the attention of the whole world. She has become a member of the grieving community of Islam in Christchurch, New Zealand- those whose sources of joy on planet earth were heinously destroyed two Fridays ago by the hellion in that city. She has become a member of the family of the widower whose wife was felled by the pellets of the gun wielded by the nameless ‘white’ monster at noon. Jacinda has opened her heart in distinctive ways in order for the unfortunate woman whose sole child died together with her husband while standing in prayer in the hallowed space of the Mosque in Christchurch.
Jacinda has done all of the above on the knowledge that in the hot tears of grief that have continued to pour out of the eyes of those brothers and sisters of ours since two weeks ago lie the unsayable. She knows that when tragedy occurs, when the space of treasure suddenly becomes a haunting space, when moments of happiness becomes moments of melancholy and sadness, only the loud silence, the involuntary opening and closing of the mouth of the bereaved, the involuntary tremor in her body, the occasional sighs and groans that come from the deepest parts of his of hearts could give faint insights into the depth of loss felt by the bereaved.
But exactly who is Jacinda Ardern? She is the New Zealand anti-thesis of the rambunctious occupier of the White House. A Mormon follower at the beginning; then a member of The Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints, now an Agnostic waiting, in my view, to become a Muslim, Jacinda epitomizes the kind of leadership the world had all along desired. She knows that fire cannot extinguish but water; that hatred cannot drive out hate, but love. Leading a nation seized by grief, she chose to spread relief and succor; she chose to become the Prime Minister of light and hope. She is the candle that spreads that light; she has become the mirror of the future that humanity deserves. Following in the footsteps of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan (1990), Jacinda gave birth to a girl even as a Prime Minister in June, 2018. As a mother, she has shown that only love nurtures and nourishes not hatred.
I close by yielding space to Martin Luther King who said: “We will not build a peaceful world by following a negative path. It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war but on the positive affirmation of peace. We must see that peace represents a sweeter music, a cosmic melody, that is far superior to the discords of war. Somehow, we must transform the dynamics of the world power struggle from the negative nuclear arms race, which no one can win, to a positive contest to harness humanity’s creative genius for the purpose of making peace and prosperity a reality for all the nations of the world. In short, we must shift the arms race into a peace race. If we have a will – and determination – to mount such a peace offensive, we will unlock hitherto tightly sealed doors of hope and transform our imminent cosmic elegy into a psalm of creative fulfillment.”
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