#Christchurch: The balance of duality

PAWAN LUTHRA on Christchurch mosque attacks and how fragile the duality of being an Indian and Australian is

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There is much truth to the notion that as human beings, we are all defined by many dualities. We can be good Australians, while still keeping our love for India. We can be good husbands and fathers at the same time. We can be good sportspeople and still enjoy music. In fact, the more dual we are, the more balanced we become. It has been said, “Life is created from a balanced interaction of opposite and competing forces. Yet these forces are not just opposites; they are complementary”.

Mourners lay flowers on a wall at the Botanical Gardens in Christchurch, New Zealand, Monday, March 18, 2019. A steady stream of mourners paid tribute at makeshift memorial to the 50 people slain by a gunman at two mosques in Christchurch, while dozens of Muslims stood by to bury the dead when authorities finally release the victims’ bodies. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

It was this very balance that was disturbed in the recent barbaric act in Christchurch, an act that wasn’t catalysed by our DNA or by geographical borders, but by man himself. Politicians have been complicit in creating divisions and rifts amongst people and rather than celebrating duality, in actually exploiting it for their political gains.

President Trump is a master at this. Immediately after the Christchurch shootings he offered his “warmest sympathy” to and “solidarity” with the victims and their families. He moved on soon after to the threats of the “immigrant invaders” in the US and to attacking Fox News (a network well known for its extreme views) for suspending a host for Islamophobic remarks. No offer of sympathy or love for Muslim communities, as NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern suggested to him in the aftermath of the white supremacist attack.

Closer home, our own politicians have not exactly covered themselves with glory in recent times either. (It now appears that the Christchurch terrorist attack is becoming a game-changer in the upcoming elections in NSW and will probably effect the Federal elections later this year.)

The dog whistling by the Liberal/Coalition party about the invasion of refugees, and the ‘us vs them’ ideology, have played out before. Remember “We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come”? Remember “stopping the boats”? At times, these have been referred to as ‘stealing sound bites from the One Nation party’. Even the Labor party is not immune to building on division to win a few votes, the recent example being the outing of NSW Labor leader Michael Daley’s comments in the ‘Asians are taking our jobs’ saga. No cry denouncing this intelligence blackout from Federal Labor. And note that this editorial has not made one comment on a particular senator’s utterly despicable remarks following the Christchurch ambush.

Politicians do tend to build on the theme that migrants are “taking over” the country, especially during election times when national security seems to be higher on the agenda. So much so that that people in Western countries overestimate their current Muslim population.

In a recent perception vs reality survey by The Guardian, respondents answered the question “Out of every 100 people in your country, about how many do you think are Muslim?” The Australians said 12, the Americans 16. The reality for Australia is 2, for America 1.

What is important to note is that most migrants will continue to retain the good from their country of migration and adapt it to the good in their new home. The values they bring with them will complement those that they take on, not replace them.

This duality is to be celebrated, not condemned. It makes for a greater diversity in world views, and creates a better balance in our social narrative.