Simran Jeet Singh: We Must Start Battling the Hate That Caused the New Zealand Mosque Shooting in the Schoolroom

People wait outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15, 2019. Many people were killed in a mass shooting at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday, witnesses said. Police have not yet described the scale of the shooting but urged people in central Christchurch to stay indoors. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

It wasn’t until I dropped my daughter off at preschool this morning that I pulled out my phone and saw the horrific news about last night’s shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

And like most people, I imagine, my heart sank right through my stomach and down into the floor beneath me. Forty-nine innocent people. Praying together. Worshipping in community. Assuming they were safe. Gunned down in cold blood.

My heart was paralyzed with pain, and I took a seat in the preschool lobby.

And that’s when my mind began racing. I thought of my daughter and the kids in her class, a group of three-year-olds painting rainbows and playing with dinosaurs. Would they be safe?

I thought of the pain I felt when a white supremacist massacred Sikh congregants in Wisconsin a few years back. My brother and sister-in-law were there at the time, and we had no idea if we would ever see them again.

At that time, I didn’t have kids. And now that I do, as I sat there, my heart began aching, imagining how painful it must be for the parents who lost their loved ones in New Zealand. Forty-nine sons and daughters – who would never come home.

Before I knew it, my legs picked me up off the couch and carried me back to my daughter’s classroom. I peered through the window, resisting the urge to go in, grab her by the hand, and take her home.

I didn’t fear for myself, but I am terrified for her. If I really loved her, wouldn’t I want to protect her from the madness of our world? Wouldn’t the loving move be to lock her in our apartment and make sure she never has to experience hate in any of its pernicious forms? Isn’t the role of a loving parent to protect their kids from pain?

The kids were hugging each other now. My daughter had made a card for her friend and pulled it out of her cubby when she arrived. She also pulled out her beloved stuffed unicorn and shared it with one of her friends.

I reflected on the moment, realizing that all she knows is love. Her friend thanked her for sharing the unicorn by giving her a hug.

“O, to return to the innocence of a child,” I thought.

My mind returned to New Zealand.

How is it possible that our sweet, innocent three-year-olds could ever become hateful? They certainly don’t know it as children. So where do they learn it? What have we done as a society that transforms our children’s love into toxic hate? And is there anything we can do to inoculate them?

I ask myself these questions every day as a father. I’ve been on the other side of hate. My family and I have been attacked because of how we look often enough to know that it’s a disease that, if allowed to fester, spreads like wildfire.

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Source: Religion News Service