Like many people, I found it hard to come to terms with what happened in Christchurch recently.

I sat on the couch in tears all that afternoon and evening. To make it worse, I was on my own. It’s times like this that you really need people around you. Facebook kept telling me ‘love overcomes hate’ and ‘darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that…’ but these quotes felt woefully inadequate at the time.

I wonder how many people still feel at a loss to understand how love overcomes hate when the hatred feels so fully formed and all-consuming.

What happened in Christchurch was abhorrent. But if there’s one thing I know, it’s that love always does overcome hate, we just underestimate how. 

What happened in Christchurch was abhorrent. But if there’s one thing I know, it’s that love always does overcome hate, it’s just that we underestimate how. 

Just look at the outpouring of love, not just in New Zealand, but across the world. I witnessed so many small acts of love and kindness immediately after the attack. They all add up.

Things I noticed:

  • Complete strangers talked to me.
  • Simple things, like people holding the lift door open for me to go first.
  • Friends checking in to ask how I was, and offering a shoulder to cry on.
  • Business contacts starting their email by acknowledging what happened, instead of denying, or being embarrassed to mention it (thank you).
  • My yoga teacher Kim who dedicated her class the next day to the memory of those killed and their families (some of us cried throughout the entire class).
  • Armed policemen and women met my eye, acknowledged my horror and sent back a comforting look as if to say, “we hate this too, but we’re here to protect you, so please don’t be scared by the gun.”
  • A bunch of grateful women, when I showed up in a headscarf to run their session. 
  • The outpouring of love from around the world for our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who intuitively understood how to hold an entire country so we could mourn (just look at the comments on her Facebook live page). Yes there were also a few ‘haters’, but the numbers were insignificant in comparison. Yay! Go Jacinda!
  • Our government’s firm stance on sharing the assault on social media as unacceptable, and not getting caught up in the rhetoric, or backing away from changing gun laws. 

This is how love overcomes hate. It’s a choice. We all get to choose. We can take action. We can look after each other. We check in.

It may seem small, it might not feel like much, but it all adds up.

You can allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the enormity of what happened, or you can reach out to one another in small meaningful ways.

I believe human beings are intrinsically good. We’re built for love and connection. The more we focus on kindness, compassion and generosity, the more we grow those qualities inside of us, and the better humans we’ll be.

They say whenever something bad happens, you should look for the helpers, because they’re everywhere. If you look for the hatred, you’ll certainly find it.

Notice where you look.

Some of us lose our way, and hatred, bitterness and anger can take us over. But the more we reach out and support one another, the less hold hatred has over us.

I wonder if the gunman would have committed such an atrocity if he’d felt loved and cared for? If someone had reached out to him and shown him kindness when he needed it most?

We’ll never know. But to my mind, he must have been through significant pain to consider such an extreme act.

Each day, I keep reminding myself that despite everything, much good will come out of this.

It always does.

Kerene Strochnetter is the Managing Director of Mindful at Work Ltd. She is on a mission to make the M-words cool (mindfulness and meditation) in the workplace. Mindful at Work delivers ‘My Off Switch’ workplace programs to businesses across New Zealand and Australia, to groups, leaders and individuals looking for peak performance, to build resilience, lift engagement and create a healthier workplace.

It’s all about changing the way you think and positively influencing workplace culture.