Let Faith Unite Us: A Response to the Tragedy in New Zealand

Dear Bush Community,
I was tremendously saddened to learn this morning of another religiously-motivated crime–the mass shootings at the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. Unlike attacks in the United States, mass shootings are rare in New Zealand; prior to Friday’s attack, the country’s last mass shooting occurred in 1990, killing thirteen people in Aramoana. One horrific aspect of this recent tragedy is that the victims were targeted because of their faith, and the gunman’s vile feelings of mistrust, anger, and hatred at the worshippers and other Muslims.
Our prayers go out to our families and friends in the Muslim community—on The Bush School campuses, in New Zealand, and beyond. We know that this tragedy, although continents away, affects you, and will leave Muslims everywhere shaken, frightened, and searching for answers in the weeks and months ahead. Please know that the Bush community stands with you and against these despicable acts of violence, terror, and intimidation.
As Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern stated, “We were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we are an enclave for extremism. We were chosen for the very fact that we are none of those things. Because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion. A home for those who share our values. Refuge for those who need it. And those values will not and cannot be shaken by this attack.”
Many of our students have become inured to reading about shootings here and abroad. They may feel helpless in preventing these acts in the future. However, theirs are the clearest and most resonant voices leading the efforts to end racism, homophobia and transphobia, anti-semitism, and anti-Muslim prejudice. They understand that there is far more that unites us than divides us. This is evident in the response by faith communities to the two recent religiously-motivated hate crimes. You may remember after the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting, Muslim groups raised more than $200,000 for the Pittsburgh shooting victims. Now, The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh is reciprocating the generosity it received from the Muslim community by collecting donations for the victims of the Christchurch, New Zealand tragedy. May this example of compassion through action guide us all.
Please join me in supporting the Muslim families at Bush and around Seattle. Let your children know that we will be here for them when they return to school, eager to hold their hearts.
Peace be upon you,
Percy L. Abram, Ph.D.
Head of School