It is the one week anniversary of the Christchurch Mosque attacks. New Zealand has been in a state of mourning. Our Prime Minister has done a stellar job at bringing the country together.
What has the reaction been like from everyday folk here in southern China?
The reaction has been subdued, though the majority were made aware of the incident through the media.
There has been no comment on it unless I raise the subject first (usually in the lift). You get asked “Where are you from?” And “Oh, what a beautiful place!“
“Thanks.” I reply. “Oh, by the way, did you hear the news about the mass killings in our country?”
“Yes, yes – dreadful situation” they say. “Are gun laws really that lax in New Zealand?“
It has been weird this week being so far from home. Nearly every boy has a collection of realistic-looking toy guns. I flinched at the sight of one boy strapped with three automatic toy guns less than 24 hours after March 15th’s event. He was just being a boy, doing what boys do. He was late for class. This didn’t seem to matter today. His mate had a plastic AK-47.
Older students have found discussions around the subject to be interesting, though their English vocabulary limits much of what they want to say. Some have giggled in parts of my talk. This is not arrogance on their part but more an embarrassment or awkwardness at the sheer horror of what unfolded that day.
A 17 minute video taken by the gunman was circulating China’s most popular mobile app – WeChat. Would I like to see the video? No thanks. Are you sure? You can’t see clearly – it’s a bit like watching a computer game. Again, a polite no thank you.
I was able to obtain a newspaper last Saturday (see below). The headline translates into “The Darkest Day in New Zealand’s History.”
Life went on as normal for people here. It’s not surprising really. They’ve got their own things to worry about. China has had its fair share of blood too. One can look to the 2014 Kunming Train Station Massacre as evidence. With tight gun laws in place, the perpetrators used knives instead. The result was ghastly.
We’ve had an incident here in Guangzhou too, though thankfully there were no fatalities. It’s an example that no place is exempt from senseless violence.
Thank you for reading. We hope to return with a happier blog when the time is right.