Victims of murder and violence – should we remember them?
Remembering can be a very personal thing. For someone special we have lost remembering is a unique library of memories that keeps that person alive with us. And those same memories can also be painful and difficult to face. Memories are the bitter sweet legacy of loss and grief.
We also remember collectively. As communities, as a nation. We can share the memories and grief of people we don’t even know, as we do for those who fought and lost their lives in war. We have been touched by these events and if we fail to remember we fail those who have lived and died, we fail a new generation and we fail to learn.
Elie Wiesel, holocaust survivor, states it clearly “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”
In the period 1978 – 2014 more than 3800 lives have been taken by violence and homicide in New Zealand*. That sounds like the figures from the national war office. Except these are innocent children, babies, the elderly, teenagers, young men and women, taken by criminal acts of violence, killed on our own shores. Approximately 50% killed in their own homes.
Their deaths form a part of our collective psyche, they need to touch our national soul.
Violence is violence, no matter where it occurs; it is the same evil, just dressed up in different clothes. In our homes, on our streets, in public places, international terrorism or global battle fields. It doesn’t matter where, who, how or why, violence is violence.
For me my greatest pain is not that I have lost a son but that I would simply return to the life I once knew. People are not our enemy. People can be evil yes, but our greatest enemy, the greater evil is the indifference that resides in every one of us. Resides in me.
Our first line of defence against any horrors of the past, or the present, is to forever remember the victims. If we don’t we are staring down the barrel of continued abuse and violence for generations to come.
So yes without doubt it is imperative that we remember and ‘bear witness’. Taking courage to share our stories and our memories is a powerful way that we can do just that.
*Research provided by a local member of Parliament - data used from 1978-2014