I’ve been struck this week by the stories of compassion coming out of Christchurch, New Zealand in the aftermath of last Friday’s terrorist attack on two mosques. “Peace be upon you, and peace be upon all of us,” said New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, in the country’s parliament, where she stressed that hate had no place and that the attack had happened not to ‘Muslims’ but to “us”.
It seems compassion always springs up wherever hatred does its worst. From Christchurch we heard about the husband throwing himself in front of his disabled wife to protect her from the bullets, and the man who, rather than running away, chased the gunman armed only with a credit card machine.
Why? Why do we care and risk so much when fellow human beings are hurting? It seems inbuilt, part of our DNA – the will to protect as well as to survive.
In therapy we plug into this compassionate instinct – drawing deeply on the power of hope and love to face, unpick and survive even the worst traumas and betrayals. It is amazing that it is possible to come back from the worst things. And yet, it is. It begins by finding a seed of love and care for ourselves, a refusal to be victimised, an attempt to defend the hurt bits of ourselves, in spite of everything.
I guess we keep reaching out, helping people, coming into therapy, opening up, because we believe that whilst violence is all around, peace is still possible. So, for anyone who’s ever suffered and struggled and hoped, the Islamic prayer is apt: “Peace be upon you” And peace be upon us all.