Like everyone I was stunned by the recent shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand. My son lives in New Zealand, but he lives on the North Island. He did have a teacher colleague who was in lockdown in Christchurch. My cousin Linda was actually on the South Island and had been in Christchurch a bit before and as I write this she and Derek are back in Christchurch before they head back to Canada.
Derek was the first one to get my attention posting on Facebook something about one of the victims--the first one who actually greeted the shooter. Another Facebook post from Derek was about one of victims who had tackled the shooter resulting in his death and that of his son. I shared one of them and am pleased that some of my friends shared it a little bit further and before too long I could see other people had picked up the posts from other sources.
Then Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand Prime Minister had posts up saying that she would never utter the name of the shooter. It might be recalled that several shooters in the past credited earlier shooters with inspiring them. To some sick people the shooters were portrayed as some weird sort of hero. There are many factors mostly not understood that result in mass shootings and it seems the general public knows more about the shooters then they do about the more numerous victims.
Hopefully this latest shooting will start to reverse the publicity--it should be more about commemorating the victims than the sick belligerents. We need to understand what causes a particular person to commit such horrid deeds. We need to be able better to predict who is more likely to emulate earlier shooters and decide what steps can be taken to minimize the danger. This is now a global concern and needs to be taken with co-operation between all national authorities.
What we as individuals and particularly politicians need to be more careful of is not to publicize sick people, but remember the victims.
Jacinda has set a good model of what should be done. I can't resist mentioning that Donald Trump was pathetic. How they were each elected was a contrast and might have another lesson.
Donald Trump was elected with less votes than his main opponent Hilary Clinton. In some jurisdictions there would have been a run off if no candidate received 50% of the votes, but the American system was set up with critical input from slave owners that allows disproportionate power to smaller states. The contest allows for strategies that take advantage of voters who are unhappy about something and whose vote can be leveraged. Actually everyone is unhappy about something, but the Republicans have mastered stirring up social concerns that actually disadvantage minorities who can be targeted to enable getting power for their conservative economic agenda.
New Zealand offers a proportional system that means a significant fraction of votes are split among parties rather than geographically. As it happened Jacinda's party only accumulated the second most votes, however the party that finished third felt more in alignment with Jacinda's party and agreed to support the more liberal party of Jacinda's. Obviously both parties joining together had to be willing to share power and be willing to compromise some of their policies.
The voters in New Zealand's system made a better choice, but not only for themselves, for the whole world. We need more examples like Jacinda Ardern.
I wanted to get this off my chest before the next crisis has its own urgency.