Newsletter 4: 19 March 2019

Dear Colleagues,

As we mourn the victims of the massacre last Friday in Christchurch, the ubiquitous nature and capacity for influence of social media, poignantly arrests us as educators. Social media when used appropriately is a most natural and uplifting sharing of life and experience among family, friends, and colleagues. The live, uncensored, multi media nature of the platform and its incredible reach around the globe is compelling and powerful. It is a form of communication replete with good news and moments of joyous significance. However, as witnessed last Friday, social media can be used as a destructive tool for evil, inciting hatred and inflicting immense pain and suffering. Broadcasted murder of innocent, defenceless people praying to God, violently and indescribably shocks us. The massacre was the antithesis of love, nurture and care, God’s gifts to the unique nature of human kind.

In this current global outpouring of grief, sympathy, questioning, and solidarity, what messages do we choose to amplify when listening and sharing with the young people in our care, many of whom are voracious users of social media? On Sunday at Saint Mary’s Cathedral in the presence of Muslim Leaders, Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher OP, spoke to the alienated, resentful, and brutal mindset of the radicalised. Below is an excerpt from the full text, which is commended to you and can be found HERE.

If it is real strength you want, you will find it in compassion and mercy, not hate and violence.

If it is real devotion you seek, dedicate yourself to God and goodness and your fellow man and woman, rather than ego and ideology.

If you want to be worthy of admiration, cultivate a generous inclusivity rather than divisive arrogance, be willing to serve rather than seeking to dominate.

We stand together today, in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters, in their grief, horror and disgust, for if someone has killed, maimed and terrorized our neighbours they have killed, maimed and terrorized us.

But today is about more than fellow-feeling.

Where there is grief, we will bring consolation;

where there is horror, we will sow trust;

where there is despair, we will offer hope.

Let us keep in our prayers the victims and their families.

Sally Dillon