All of us are in despair and disbelief over the unfathomable attack on worshippers in two mosques in New Zealand. When tragedy hits and innocent lives are lost, as a collective body, we ache – and when that tragedy is the result of hatred, we fear for our safety and the safety of those we love. As we pray for those who lost their lives and for their families, New Horizon will also take additional steps to be vigilant to safeguard our students and families. Early this morning, I received a call from our local area Lieutenant who, in coordination with the Chief of Police, had already deployed additional patrols and police presence around both campuses. The visible presence of the Irvine Police Department around our campuses serves as a protection and reassurance. Further, we are blessed to be located in Irvine, the safest city in the nation, with a police department who work in partnership with us.
In a letter from Heather Laird, the Executive Director of USC Center for Muslim Mental Health and Islamic Psychology (CMMHIP), to New Horizon, she warns that when traumatic events occur young people turn to social media and YouTube for answers. Since there is little regulation of the materials on these sites, children can be traumatized as a result of viewing highly graphic materials and images resulting in empathy desensitization, lack of motivation, and “compassion fatigue”. These can occur in adults and children when exposed to many images and discussions about traumatic events. The CMMHIP recommends that screen time is limited to one half hour to no more than two hours per day depending on the age group, and also for families to avoid looking at graphic or traumatic photos, images or videos. Even reading about these kinds of tragic events over and over may have traumatic effects. The CMMHIP further recommends spending extra time exercising or working with art to manage the stress that we may be in-taking at this time. For more resources, you can visit the CMMHIP website: https://www.ctr4muslimmentalhealth.com/ or call (424) 354-8095.
In the meantime, as a community, we can model resilience for each other and for our children through prayer and continuing to move forward rather than allowing fear to control our behaviors. We will continue to go to our places of worship and our schools while we take appropriate protective measures.
In the Quran, we are reminded: “Oh you who believe! Seek help with perseverance and prayer, for God is with those who patiently persevere” (2:153)
As we pray today, please ask for God’s protection and for our collective patience in the face of difficulty. Also, please make du’a for those who have departed, and for the family and friends who remain. May God keep our communities and those who protect us safe from harm.
“…Verily in the remembrance of God do hearts find rest.” (13:28)