STRONG RESPONSE: Community members light candles at a prayer vigil at Grafton's Christ Church Cathedral in the wake of the NZ shooting. The response from Australia and New Zealand was an eye-opener for Grafton resident Jason Grimes, who grew up in USA.
STRONG RESPONSE: Community members light candles at a prayer vigil at Grafton's Christ Church Cathedral in the wake of the NZ shooting. The response from Australia and New Zealand was an eye-opener for Grafton resident Jason Grimes, who grew up in USA. Adam Hourigan

Tragedy response proof empathy is alive in Australia, NZ

GROWING up American has a lot of perks. There are many things I miss about the country I was born and raised in. Make no mistake, anyone who has met me knows I am still, despite living here a decade, as American as apple pie.

However, over the course of this week, as a result of the Christchurch tragedy, I have become aware of one side effect of being raised in America to which I am both saddened by, and grateful to be an Australian Citizen and member of this community.

When I heard the news of the massacre in New Zealand, I did not react. I did not feel sad, or upset, or take time to think about the many tragic victims sadly lost or those left behind. In fact, I simply saw it as another shooting in another place; a part of life in today's society.

It wasn't until I came back to work, saw and spoke with friends, saw the looks on people's faces around town, and saw the response of both the Australian and New Zealand governments that I realised, in this part of the world, these tragedies are not a part of life.

 

Grafton Headspace manager Jason Grimes is an Australian citizen who grew up in America, where shootings became 'part of life'.
Grafton Headspace manager Jason Grimes is an Australian citizen who grew up in America, where shootings became 'part of life'. Adam Hourigan

I reflected on my response and realised how accustomed I had become to these types of tragedies and how tragic that is.

I have watched with an overwhelming sense of hope over these past few days as people have come together. The focus being primarily where it should; on the victims, their families and how as two great countries solutions can be put into place to prevent future tragedies.

I have watched two religions often depicted as in opposition unite in a message of peace, love and tolerance.

I have watched political parties, more often than not adversarial in views, unite in messages of unity, prevention and tolerance.

I have watched all of this realising in Australia and New Zealand, the people, the communities, the religious leaders and politicians will not allow events like what has happened to become a part of life in these societies.

I am proud to be American, that will never subside. But I am grateful to be Australian. Grateful to be raising my children in a country where people can put aside differences in the pursuit of a better safer future for their fellow man.

I am most of all grateful for the lessons I have learned, the perspective I have gained, that tragedies like the one we have just witnessed must never, ever become just a part of life.

  • The views conveyed in this article are the views of Jason Grimes only, and not representative of Headspace as an organisation.

Power Point is dedicated to sharing the thoughts and views of The Daily Examiner's Power 30. As influential people in the Clarence Valley, by definition their voices matter. When they speak, people listen. This week's Power Point comes from Grafton Headspace manager Jason Grimes, who was No.13 in the 2018 Power 30.

 

Bill North


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