Your brain can't help but think, "Here we go again."
The headlines are too awful to contemplate: Gunmen targeted two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 49 people attending Friday prayers (CTV, CBC, CNN) and seriously injuring at least 20 more. As if the prospect of well-coordinated attacks against members of a faith-based group couldn't be any more sickening, photos shared online of ammo reportedly belonging to one of the gunmen shows the name, "Bissonnette", an apparent reference to Alexandre Bissonnette, who shot 6 victims dead at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre on Jan. 29, 2017 and has been sentenced to 40 years behind bars.
So now, apparently, they're inspiring each other.
Let's be clear: This isn't just an attack on one community. It's an attack on all of us. On anyone who dares to be part of a community. Today our Muslim brothers and sisters were gunned down in cold blood because of who they were. Last October, Jews were slaughtered in Pittsburgh for having the temerity to attend synagogue. Next up? Who knows? But I cringe at the thought that there will be a next time.
We live in politically polarizing times, where some of our most powerful leaders dog-whistle to racist supporters, where white supremacy has been legitimized in the highest corridors of power, where the torch of anti-immigrant sentiment burns with an intensity not seen since 1930s Germany. We said "Never again", but we didn't seem to mean it.
In the wake of the 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting, I wrote this, and after re-reading it today, I realize not a whole lot has changed. The forces of hatred, legitimized as they have been by the rhetoric that fills mainstream and social media news feeds, aren't just theoretical constructs, anymore. They're real, and they're coming for all of us where we live, where we work, where we gather.
The solution? It starts with us, with one. If you do one thing today, please reach out to someone you know. Connect across the non-existent divides that the haters insist should define our time here on Earth. Muslims did this for Jews in the wake of the Pittsburgh shooting, and that more than anything reinforced, then as now, that there is hope. We're better than this. One relationship at a time, we need to illustrate to those who would push hatred and divisiveness that their world view doesn't cut it anymore.
When we say, "Never again", we must mean it. And we must be willing to act. Otherwise, our new normal will be this. Or worse.