New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is only 38-years-old and has already been tasked with the unimaginable job of consoling a nation facing unimaginable tragedy. What words can any leader say to offer a sense of peace during a time of so much heartbreak? Ardern hasn’t simply used words, but has demonstrated her steadfast leadership through selfless action. Rather than just giving long-winded speeches about policy change, she’s been out in the streets consoling the families of the victims and paying her respects to the lives lost. Because of her extraordinary response in the face of extreme devastation, she’s being praised worldwide, according to People.
On Friday, an extremist opened fire during a mass shooting at two different mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Fifty innocent people were killed while simply trying to worship in peace. The shooter has been identified as 28-year-old Australian citizen Brenton Harrison Tarrant, who has now been charged with murder.
While wearing a black headscarf, Ardern headed out into the streets on Sunday to attend a memorial service held at the Kilbirnie Mosque in Wellington. The family members and friends who lost loved ones during the senseless act placed colorful flowers and wreaths at the memorial in their memory. Ardern, who was visibly emotional herself, took her time to greet the mourners and express her condolences. She was seen embracing them and speaking to them with empathy that many across the world have observed and praised her for. While this is an unimaginable time for those who were affected by the violence, Adrern’s leadership and compassion has helped bring peace to many.
Jacinda Ardern repeated her pledge to change New Zealand's gun laws and she questioned the role of social media in publicizing the attack by a self-proclaimed white supremacist. https://t.co/wSnJqtF2Jv #USRC pic.twitter.com/l8JpouMdrA— U.S. Reality Check???? (@USRealityCheck) March 19, 2019
Following the massacre, Ardern issued a public statement regarding the horrendous events and spoke out against hate and violence.
“Our thoughts and our prayers are with those who have been impacted today. Christchurch was the home of these victims. For many, this may not have been the place they were born. In fact, for many, New Zealand was their choice … a place that many came to for its safety, a place where they were free to practice their culture and their religion. For those of you who are watching at home tonight, and questioning how this could have happened here, we — New Zealand — we were not a target because we are a safe harbor for those who hate.”
On Monday, Ardern claimed that she and her political cabinet are in full support of changing the gun laws of New Zealand. A ban on semi-automatic rifles is expected to occur in the near future.