The grief for those killed and injured in New Zealand's Christchurch massacre remains palpable as Australians come to grips with the fact that a native of our country was the alleged perpetrator of such a callous, inhuman level of violence.
In the days that have followed, politicians and police in Australia have grappled to find the right words. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told her people they were "united in their grief" and assured them the true character of their nation was the response rather than the attack itself.
Our nation can feel isolated, and therefore protected from the atrocities that happen across the seas. Until Friday afternoon, New Zealanders likely felt the same way.
"On Friday we saw terrible acts of terrorism, of hate, of evil," Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said at the state's second-oldest mosque at Preston. "The crowd assembled here ... and in so many places across our city and state says to me that hope and harmony is always more powerful than hate and division."
In Bendigo, faiths united at a vigil on Sunday where more than 200 people mourned those lost. They had gathered 'in recognition of the pain and suffering recently inflicted on the Islamic community, and through them, on all faith communities'.
Others, including Senator Fraser Anning, have been slapped down by all sides of politics and beyond after attempting to widen the cracks and divisions that apparently motivated the misguided perpetrators to forego mercy and basic humanity. "Australians will be utterly ashamed of this racist man," British Home Secretary Sajid Javid said of Mr Anning. "In no way does he represent our Australian friends."
Nothing can undo the horrors of Friday. All we can decide is the legacy. Surely it is best to remember the victims first, and the perpetrator only as a misguided and cautionary example of what emphasising difference and division over similarity and solidarity reaps. Australians certainly have more in common with those killed in New Zealand than the native of this country who allegedly pulled the trigger. Offering a fair go for all is how we can prove that daily.
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