A system responds

Only two weeks ago a white racist supremacist killed 50 people praying in two mosques in my home town, Christchurch. The wound is still raw. 

My idea for this blog was to show how I’d evaluate the response to this atrocity. If I were to do an Outcome Harvest  I’d look for new behaviours and policies through out the whole system. I’d  ask why those changes emerged and what new attitudes or policies underpin them or result from them. Then I would want to put it all together and ask how the inclusion of immigrants and minorities in New Zealand society is systemically different from it was before the shoting. 

I am not in New Zealand so am not totally connected to what is happening but even from the Himalayas it is easy to see deep systemic responses to 50 people being killed. 

In terms of behavior some examples are: 

  • New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern wore a black headscarf at the Christchurch memorial services to those killed. 

  • Tens of thousands of New Zealand women wore head scarfs of Hijabs on the Friday following the massacre. 

  • In schools where muslim mothers were too scared to walk their children to school white mothers contacted them and offered to accompany them to school. Some were too scared even for that so non-mulsim mothers went with their children to muslim families and walked both groups of children to school. I’d want to know how the relationships between muslims and others unfold. 

  • Churches made decisions to gather with muslims at their mosques.

  • A Cricket test match and high profile rugby games were cancelled (Highly significant anywhere, but in New Zealand sport is the primary religion of many.)

  • People are handing in semi-automatic firearms to help their communities feel safe. 

There are many many more. 

Some examples of new policy are:

  • New Zealand’s gun laws were changed within days to ban semi-automatic weapons and change the registration system for firearms. (cf USA where national handwringing follows every mass shooting, arguments from the NRA that it’s people not guns that kill people, discussion over the divine right of every American to carry firearms, , no discussion over the divine right for USA to invade any country it ants to, an no change to gun laws.   few days or weeks later another mass shooting)

  • Banks opened donation sites to collect money for victims’ families. (My bank collected 8 million in a week)

  • The New Zealand government gave no-strings- attached payments to every family. They could bring relatives to New Zealand if they needed to. 

  • Probably the best provincial rugby team on the planet, the Canterbury Crusaders,  is considering changing its name that conjures up images of powerful white people killing muslims. Crusaders is an icon of Christchurch, changing the name is hugely significant.

  • Many schools have changed policies on bullying and racism. 

These are but a few examples

And If I were evaluating I would want to delve deeply into the reasons people changed behaviour, what new relationships underpinned or resulted from new behaviour and policy. In New Zealand after 15 March there would be much to find. And I would want to see in a year or three to see if the changes were sustainable. …


…but that was all before last Friday. On March 29, two weeks after that horrible event,  New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gave this speech at a memorial. If you have seven minutes listen to it. Listen to a world leader extol Muslims for their words of peace. !!!!!. There is no call to a war on terrorism. No call for an eye for an eye (as Gandhi said a judeo-western savagery that just leaves the whole world blind) Instead she calls for deepening our humanity, for love and acceptance and diversity. Listen to a world leader (6 minutes 10 seconds) question the role of borders and governments and instead talk about the answer being humans be human everywhere. Listen to a world leader give a hint a globalist planetary vision. Listen to a world leader use maori and Arabic to salve a wounded nation.  Listen to a beautiful speech. See it as a counter point to the response to the Pulvama attack in India (14 Feb) to which India responded with warplanes and violence or 9/11 which elicited USAs self described “ War of Terror”, unleashing an escalating cycle of violence that continues today, and probably contributed to the shooting in Christchurch. Listen to a very New Zealand response, and consider how we might create the kind of world system Ardern hints at.

Jeph Mathias