Light Our Way Forward exhibition
I never thought I'd see this happen in New Zealand. I remember living through all this in Cape Town in the mid-90s when a spate of similar bombings and gun attacks on churches, restaurants and other venues gripped the city, beginning with the bombing of the Planet Hollywood cafe at the Waterfront. I was working at the same hospital where the wounded were taken and my boss, one of the pulmonologists there, was one of the team involved in the care of the man who lost both his legs in the blast and made world-wide news. For weeks after, it was quite normal to see riot vehicles all over the city and parked outside the hospital. I thought I'd left all that behind for good.
Of course, back then it was Muslim extremists responsible for the attacks. Not that it really matters. It was 20 years ago and I don't remember much about the motivations of the group, I just remember the horror of it all - the trauma it caused a friend of ours who witnessed people being shot in front of him in one of the other attacks at the time.
That's just it - it's all so pointless. They think they're making their cause proud, but in time no one remembers them, only the destruction they caused.
It really doesn't matter whether they're white fundamentalists or Muslim extremists or purple-spotted green fanatics - they're all just terrorists.
Anyone who commits an act of violence against innocent people, no matter what cause they may use to try and justify their actions, is a terrorist and has no place in society.
My thoughts and love go out to the people of Christchurch and I hope that the friends I used to know, but lost touch with when I moved to Wellington, who attended those mosques are safe.
Wishing one could do more
I dontated what I could to the fund set up for the victims' families, but I felt moved to do more. Yet what can one really do? Then I saw the poster for the Light Our way Forward exhibition (PDF) and I knew I had found the way to express my feelings of loss and sadness.
I set my candle against a starscape and called it We are all Children of the Stars, inspired by the quote by my childhood hero, Carl Sagan:
"The nitrogen in our DNA.
The calcium in our teeth.
The iron in our blood.
The carbon in our apple pies.
We're made in the interiors of collapsing starts.
We are made of star stuff."
It is a quote I have remembered ever since I first heard it at around age six. I'm not a religious person, but somehow this resonated with me on a spiritual level and became the basis of my own spiritual beliefs - that we are all part of the universe, that we are all connected.
I enclosed the following message with my painting:
"We are all children of the Stars. We are made up of the same atoms and molecules that make up the universe. We are all the same and hate has no place in the heart of the enlightened. Wishing you much love and light at this time."
The paintings are being displayed at the Christchurch Botanic gardens near the museum from 30 March and can also be viewed on Facebook at Light Our Way Forward paintings.
A book of the paintings will also be produced and sold to raise further funds for the families.
My painting on display amongst the many tributes.
Posted: Tue 02 Apr 2019