To our Muslim brothers and sisters in Canterbury

All Peaceful Greetings,

Today in Aotearoa New Zealand on the anniversary of an exceptionally dark day we send you this message of solidarity, reflection and appreciation.

You have all suffered greatly in the last year from the loss of precious lives and the tragic damage that was wrought upon you. We continue to offer our empathy.

As Buddhists we have some experience of minority participation in NZ society and so we also offer empathy for the suffering of your community in facing the effects of Islamophobia and related exclusion.

You have called for unity across diversity and support for those in need. We hear and support this call.

In this last year the need to weave safety and love has been widely felt and acted upon by most of us as citizens. As Buddhists we also sought stronger links with you and other faith communities through Interfaith work. We wish to see these initiatives continued.

For social goodness to be seen and heard in this society, we must know the immediate causes are addressed. As people of faith we wish to go further and honour the martyrdom of those innocents who were taken from us whilst in worship. That propels the need to see a great change for the better in our community’s social fabric and in ways of responding to violence here and abroad.

As the local citizens and global communities of faith responded to you with light and love, you very admirably showed generosity of spirit, dignity and gentleness. Thank you.  Some of you went further and gave public prayers concerning that deep place of faith where one overcomes hatred.  Your responses brought more light.

We were moved to an extraordinary possibility. A glimmer, a hope arising. A citizen-initiated sustained process may be possible at last, to bring the highest values of faith-based living and religious practice to assist in the emergence of a more cohesive, safer, kinder community. We will do our best to further nurture that hope and the associated dialogues and resolutions.

Our Buddha taught us that hatred cannot be ended by hatred, and that we must purify our hearts and develop compassion if we wish to see any change. As with your holy Teacher he went out of his way to avert the festering of community conflicts and taught the importance of peace in intentions, words and actions. So in this important respect we are together in dedication to humanity.

It is time to call for those with true kindness to connect beyond ethnic, religious and ideological barriers. It starts with our learning to listen better, and communicate in a new light.

May we then teach from greater understanding, compassion and respect.

Thank you for initiating the Christchurch Invitation.

Ngā mihi, nā

Robert Hunt
Chair, NZ Buddhist Council