They are us.
Those words — from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, describing the people killed, injured, and traumatized in the two mosque shootings in Christchurch – should be written on our hearts and minds every time we encounter another person.
They are words of peace, love, and support.
They are words of inclusivity that reject hate.
They are words that move us from an ”Us and Them” mentality, which causes division, fear, and hate and fuels attitudes that are ultimately responsible for the unacceptable violence that plagues our world, where horrific events are gradually becoming the backdrop of daily life.
They are words that move us to a mindset of “Oneness”, which embraces the philosophy that we are all human and we all call this planet our home and causes us to see our brothers and sisters as people to be loved and respected.
They are words that give us the courage to stand for what is right in the face of wrong. They are words that give us the strength to spread love in opposition to hate.
When horrific incidents like the shootings at the two mosques in New Zealand happen, we can be quick to ask: what can I do?
I suggest that whatever you choose to do, include “checking yourself” to see how often you view various groups as different, other, or inferior. How easy is it for you to view people as an “outgroup” and have negative emotions about them? How quickly can you dismiss people as “not my kind”?
It is no secret that we tend to be more empathetic, more forgiving, and more generous with “our own kind”.
I know that it can be a great challenge to move beyond our closed-mindedness and narrowness to a place where we see all people as part of our human family, but we can do it if we try.
We can choose to make a conscious effort to see all human beings as “our own kind”.
Write it on your heart and mind: They are Us.