Nine days before the Easter bombings took place in Sri Lanka my husband, Darron Henricus, captured the image shown here while we were camping with a friend. All three of us saw the faces of three people in the red-hot scalding heat frozen with horror. They appeared to clutch one another while trying to escape [...]

Sunday Times 2

Easter carnage: Time to put our differences aside


Nine days before the Easter bombings took place in Sri Lanka my husband, Darron Henricus, captured the image shown here while we were camping with a friend. All three of us saw the faces of three people in the red-hot scalding heat frozen with horror. They appeared to clutch one another while trying to escape this fiery inferno. Shivers ran down my spine. Soon, though, this photo was all but forgotten until April 21, 2019. Looking at this image, in some moments we see the same vision but in others doubt clouds its veracity. This image is not so different to certain aspects of the aftermath we now face. Confusion, disbelief and circumspection twist our minds.

So many questions and emotions pick up the hot embers, the dust and debris of this fire and send it up into the air. We ourselves become the winds of a perfect storm, pushing gusts of energy, both positive, love and compassion and negative, hatred and retaliation, swirling into the vacuum left for us by evil, for this very cold, premeditated outcome of divisive destruction. Our nation stood frozen, watching from what was hoped was safety, trying hard to see through the smoke to make sense of this senseless massacre. But now the path we choose, the energy we expend, will determine the course of our destiny. As the world watches we must set a course together that fills the void with love and unity to heal again.

Transfixed by horror, the storm of bloodshed, destruction, carnage and chaos whirled and tore through my home. I could not pull away from the onslaught of information that crept into my blood, my veins. The storm raging through me grounded me to a halt, grounded me to my birthplace, 5,187 miles away, my entire self, open to the pain of my people. Glimpses into the storm showed surging gusts of grief, disbelief, sorrow, terror, anxiety, loss, fear, emptiness, anger, hate and violence. Words failing when horror such as this surpasses the ability to articulate the magnitude of this atrocious massacre. Blood, flesh and body splattered, dignity, humanity and innocence violated, used to teach a lesson, to paint a picture, of a select few as punishment for not believing as they do.

Our people are an emotional race, we weep for our loved ones in a display of anguish, wailing, open pain that others may hide behind closed doors. But not us, we are fearless even in our display of grief, loud and pleading enough to wake the dead before us. We owe it to these people we loved, the ones we lost and also to ourselves. From titanic clouds of inconsolable grief, chasms of desolation and despair, the deep emotional connection we held rains down onto earth.

So many children and young adults with futures ahead of them died. Mothers and fathers dead or left behind while their whole families are gone. Grandparents who lost entire generations they created. Countless seriously injured victims still fighting for their lives while others affected physically or emotionally will never be able to function as before. How are they to bare the burden of this cross alone?

Devout Catholics raising their hearts and voices to God, asking for humble requests to improve their quality of life, only to be culled as if their lives meant nothing. Why live when everything they built has been blown to pieces, leaving holes in their lives that could never be healed?

I may not have lost someone. But I have been to many of the locations where the bombings took place. I am also familiar with the state of peace, reverence and hope that flourishes at churches. One feels the same state of mind and spirituality at mosques, temples, and any other place of worship. If you close your eyes you can feel the power of prayer as the church sings as one, prays as one. The reverberation of sound echoes throughout the church and through your heart bringing you closer to God. This reverberation was shattered by the deafening echoes of explosion, the heart piercing screams of anguish and blinding, searing pain. A religious holiday so well celebrated throughout the world shows the power of heaven but also the power that hell holds over us.

Hell targeted a country weak in political turmoil to spread its virus, infect its people, to set in motion colossal damage and bring a nation to its knees. Distrust and fear now ripple from the points of explosion through the nation. Conversations seem irrelevant, movies and television shows a joke. Any information I can absorb, images, videos and stories, send me into a spiral of despair, dread and fear for the people I love back home.

Most people want to leave the country, or are relieved that they are not there, on ground zero. They do not want to go back. They tell me that I am lucky not to be there. I, on the other hand, want to go home. I want to be with my family, to face this threat together with them and also with my people, as a nation. I want to do what I can for those who have been affected, but life is such that at this moment for personal unrelated reasons I cannot. I must remain here and watch from a distance the heartbreaking pain and take on the responsibility of doing what I can from afar. That is my responsibility as a citizen of this nation, but also a citizen of this world.

Sri Lanka will forever be scarred by the events that took place this Easter; the storm created in its wake will last for decades to come. The war on extremism will now pose a very real threat to us. As news of this attack becomes stale, this story dies replaced by fresh stories of abhorrence and the world moves on. We, our species, inflict so much pain on ourselves, and on the world around us.

Countries are devastated by weather caused by our thoughtless pollution. Innocent animals are tortured and killed by us for a day of pleasure. Women are raped so badly by us that they die from the barbaric violation imposed on their bodies. Children accidentally kill themselves, with guns belonging to us, their parents. Dogs are half hung up by their necks and carved while still alive, by us without a morsel of remorse.  A cycle of death and destruction follows us wherever we go. We tell ourselves that we are not the ones causing the most harmful acts. This passive way of life, waiting for another to take on the acts of standing up for a world that needs all our voices, is to blame. We are guilty of turning a blind eye to the acts of our species. All our help is required to heal each act of evil our species commits.

This planet is a living thing, a dynamic body. Every minute act causes a chain reaction, harming it and everything on it. We are its limbs, its organs, its voice, but so is every single creature, object and atom of this planet. The only chance of survival and redemption is to stop segregating cultures, countries, races, religions and species. We must stop the blame game and act as one planet and one being. Harm to one is to harm all.

So, as many people have done before, I call on myself as well as you to stand up for love not hate. To spread solidarity not discord for every act of harm you and I as citizens of this earth have committed consciously or uncon-sciously. To help heal every chance we get so that hopefully the legacy and inheritance we leave behind is of a civilisation of people protecting its planet and its inhabitants.

We have the power to cause great evil but we also have the power to spread great love. That is the fight we all face no matter what our past is. An event such as this should not be a lesson just to one country, but a lesson to us all. We must put our differences aside and act NOW. Do not let this vile desecration of a day of joy, exaltation, togetherness and celebration, be the strength of great evil. Let it be the culmination that rallies us to perform the greatest acts of love, for a planet that has given us all we have and gives us the opportunity and potential to be all we can be.


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