The saying ‘Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness’ has a poignant relevance to our country after the shadows cast by the Christchurch tragedy. The sense of national grief at the misfortunes of our fellow countrymen, the wonderful outpourings of support, the growing aspirations for a true multi-culturalism and our emerging unity in the face of great challenges, these are evidence of an evolving new identity we are discovering in ourselves and cherishing as a nation.
Co-incidentally, our relay team from twelve different countries has been running from Cape Reinga to Bluff this month as part of a 44 nation peace run promoting cultural understanding and world harmony, and visiting every nation in the Southern Hemisphere. The Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run forms the longest, largest peace run in history, visiting six continents and over 120 nations this year in a wonderful initiative to foster a brighter future and involving hundreds of thousand children.
One of our Auckland team members even spent four days in Antarctica, sharing the torch and it’s message with scientific research personnel and tourists. The symbolism of the torch the runners carry is hugely relevant: ‘We are one world family, peace begins with you and me.’
The Peace Run’s founder, the late Sri Chinmoy, shares the sentiment of Mahatma Gandhi, another of India’s luminaries who likewise commented on our individual responsibility to foster a better future: “First become the change you wish to see in the world..”
Tragedy always carries hidden its wings the seeds of new hopes and brighter tomorrows, like the mythical phoenix rising from the ashes. In the aftermath of the Christchurch tragedy, we are seeing our nation’s identity reshaping itself in response, finding unity and coherence and a choice of itself as compassionate and empathetic, an almost evolutionary jump in our understanding of what we want to be. The diverse nationalities of the Peace Run team found it deeply heartening to see the reflexive goodness in our people, the extraordinary dignity of the Muslim community, and to witness a nationwide generosity of spirit.