What’s the Appropriate Reaction to Terrorist Attacks?

As you can probably guess, I’m writing this post in response to yesterday’s horrific terrorist attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, where an anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant 28-year-old white male walked into two mosques and opened fire. He killed 49 Muslims and seriously injured at least 20 more while terrorizing their sacred spaces.

Unfortunately, this is just one of many terrorist attacks globally in the last decade. We all heard about the 45 Ismaili Muslims gunned down in a Pakistan bus attack in 2015, the 49 people shot inside a gay nightclub in Florida in 2016, the 8 people stabbed and run over near the London Bridge in 2017, and the 10 people killed in a 2018 van attack right here in Toronto. So what is the correct response and reaction to hearing about these attacks? Is it anger? Is it fear? Is it shock, disbelief, or immense sadness?

Here’s the short answer, at least in my opinion: it’s all of the above. I think we should all feel anger, fear and sadness, because these emotions are what will encourage us to not remain passive when these devastating events occur. This means doing whatever we can to help others recover and to prevent more attacks from happening in the future. For example, we can:

  • Check in with relatives, friends, and colleagues who seem greatly affected by these tragedies.
  • Get involved with local communities by volunteering at, or participating in, events and activities at churches, mosques and synagogues.
  • Educate ourselves and others about the benefits of minorities within Western societies. Spread positivity & awareness, not hate.
  • Learn more about gun reform, bullying, and mental health – three topics that often interrelate when it comes to both terrorism and school shootings.
  • Gain a voice and platform by getting involved with local or national politics.
  • Donate to victims (and their families). For more ways to help victims of the Christchurch attack, click here.

Of course, free will exists and there’s no way to guarantee that our efforts will prevent future acts of terrorism. But is that any reason not to try? Remember that no effort is too small, whether it’s a $10 donation or a conversation with someone who leaves more educated than they were before.

Thanks for reading, and I encourage you to share your efforts below.

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