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'People as things': a new story after Christchurch

  • 19 March 2019


'People as things, that's where it starts.' 'Oh, I'm sure there are worse crimes — ' 'But they starts with thinking about people as things ...' [From Carpe Jugulum, by Terry Pratchett]   No one can walk into a mosque and kill 50 human beings.

Think about what that would involve. It would mean walking into a place of peace and community, taking in all of the life and hope and possibility of the people in that place, and making a decision to bring all of those lives to a bloody and abrupt end.

There's no human idea, no line of human logic, that leads to a person walking into a mosque and killing 50 human beings. Who could think that there's any human idea that might be given life amid such devastation? That any human person might be convinced of your truth after it led to such horror?

But a person can be taught not to see human beings in that mosque. That's how human beings have been committing such atrocious acts since the beginning of human history.

It takes communities where poisonous worldviews can be shared and reinforced. It takes leaders who propose solutions that come out of those poisonous environments. It takes media organisations lining up for or against those solutions, offering both allies and enemies to rally around.

All this can help convince a person that their hateful truths are widely and deeply shared. That their hateful solutions are not only acceptable, but necessary. It won't matter to them that others will react with horror. Only those who understand, only those in the circle of hate, matter.

In the wake of the Christchurch attacks, I'm not interested in learning how the person who killed those people was radicalised. It's the oldest story in the world. It's what happens when you decide the humanity of a group of people no longer matters. I'm tired of that story.


"I need to refocus on our shared humanity, because that’s the one idea that will expose the lies at the heart of this hateful act."


What I need right now is a new story, one that focuses on the life-givers not the death-dealers. I need to refocus on our shared humanity, because that's the one idea that will expose the lies at the heart of this hateful act.

What I need is to feel a connection to the human beings whose lives have been taken from them. To mourn the loss of their life,