This Harmony Day our hearts are heavy, and we need only look at recent events to understand why.
A lone shooter – a terrorist – massacred 50 people at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand and social media and news outlets broadcast these graphic images around the world.
I know for many there is a sense of shame that this evil and harm was carried out by an Australian.
At the same time 50 people lay dying and many others injured in Christchurch, an elected representative in Australia spread fear and hate, linking Muslim immigration with violence and terrorism.
And in response a young boy, angry and upset by these comments, egged this elected representative and was then assaulted and restrained – and while it is always unacceptable to physically attack someone for their views, in this case it’s hard to ignore the context.
We know that right now, around the world, keeping people safe is an issue for all nations. However, keeping people safe should not be driven by fear and hate.
What is urgently needed now is leadership.
We need our elected representatives to make it clear that hate-filled speech and hate-filled violence must stop.
We need our media outlets to stop giving air time to hate, under the pretext of freedom of speech.
We need our technology companies to take greater action to stop hate and images of violence spreading through their platforms.
And as individuals we need to remember that our words matter.
This Harmony Day what we need is compassion, and to remember that no matter their race or faith, everyone belongs.
Ashley de Silva
Chief Executive Officer
- ReachOut.com, Celebrating Harmony Day: https://au.reachout.com/articles/celebrating-harmony-day
- ReachOut Parents, Celebrating Harmony Day: https://parents.au.reachout.com/skills-to-build/connecting-and-communicating/things-to-try-effective-communication/celebrating-harmony-day
- ReachOut.com, Dealing with bad world news: https://au.reachout.com/collections/dealing-with-bad-world-news
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