The best of days....kids in Brisbane taking the lead on climate change
The worst of days...the Christchurch massacre.
We took the day off yesterday in support of combating climate change and the kids who were striking all round the world. It's hard being in Australia for too long without realising just how the world's climate is changing and how badly adults, especially privileged older ones, are handling it. We took the train the 80 odd km into Brisbane to attend the Brisbane school kids 4 climate demonstration. On the train we followed the thousands of kids in New Zealand earlier who had filled the streets, even in little conservative towns like Whangarei, New Plymouth and Blenheim. It was inspiring to listen to such impassioned youngsters taking the lead on what is the planet's most important challenge....after all it is their future and not the future of us old fogeys. Similar large turn outs were expected here in Australia and elsewhere around the world.
We reflected on the last time we attended any sort of political demonstration. It was 8 years ago in Luton
, a gritty, grey but multiethnic town northwest of London where we had gone supposedly to make some sorely needed cruising funds teaching. A fascist group, the EDL (English Defence League) was expected in the city and were planning to wreak havoc in the Muslim neighbourhoods of Bury Park in Luton. In the end, we never saw the EDL. They were separated from us by hordes of cops, but we went with other protestors down to Bury Park to join some pretty heavy Pakistani and Bangladeshi dudes in that majority Muslim suburb to show our solidarity against white supremacist far right wing violence.
And then...the first news of the tragic shooting in Christchurch filtered through before we got to Brisbane. Maybe it was a coincidence but it was also 8 years ago that we listened to the news of the earthquake in that city and wondered "why Christchurch FFS?" The world's partial lurch to the right has reached far away New Zealand. Events are unfolding as this blog is written but it does seem now that the 50 people who died yesterday were all shot by the same young man. He seemingly had spent a very normal upbringing in small town Grafton, NSW, a town we have been through many times. He was radicalised in Europe and influenced by the growth in the far right white supremacist movement but still seems to have planned everything all by himself.
In Brisbane, we joined the kids march through central Brisbane. It was rowdy, funny, smart, multiethnic and multiaged, despite the obvious student leadership. Just how could this very best of days for humanity be the same as the very worst of days for some? The kids' stand against adults inaction against climate change has been overshadowed by the slaughter in Christchurch, but the only consolation is that Tarrant's murderous attack has probably done more for interracial understanding not just here in the Pacific, but elsewhere in the world and put a spotlight on the danger of far right terrorism than anything else.
Email from Greenpeace NZ
Russel Norman, GREENPEACE via server8839.e-activist.com
6:10 PM (31 minutes ago)
Kia ora Geoffrey,
Yesterday we saw the best, and we saw the worst.
Thousands of young people came together to demand a brighter future, and a white supremacist inflicted a terror attack in two Christchurch Mosques.
It's hard to hold those two things in your heart at the same time.
Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones, to the Muslim community, and to the people of Christchurch.
It's a day of deep sadness for Aotearoa. It's a sad day for all of us who harbour a love of humankind living together peacefully on Earth in all our wonderful diversity.
It was a jarring contrast of hope and hate to have the dark events in Christchurch so closely follow the bright light of the school Climate Strike.
What should have been a day remembered for the peaceful calls of our striking rangatahi marching in the streets for climate justice, will now go down as one of the darkest in our country's history.
To the young people who organised and participated in the School Strikes for Climate, you gave us hope on a dark day. You stood for hope and for the future, united across cultures, across religions and united around the world.
Together we will keep that hope alive and stand for peace and cooperation. We will stand against hate and and oppression, and work to promote peace, in this country and around the world.
Already people around the country have responded with overwhelming love and solidarity.
We must grieve and heal, but let's also make sure that love and hope triumph over hate and ignorance.