The massacre at Port Arthur yesterday is tragic and senseless. The image of a gentle Tasmania is forever tarnished.
All of us will feel the pain and the shock, but we can only imagine the grief of those who have lost loved ones.
There is shame, too, that something so ugly could happen in our beautiful island.
Our images of ourselves and our place have been shattered. This is not a war zone. This is a place far removed from such indiscrimate violence.
Our sense of being and how we see ourselves in the world has been shattered by one man with a rifle. We will need somehow to rebuild our place in the world.
Not just to reassure others but to reassure ourselves that our special place can be special once again. This is not a time for blaming.
The first task is to find out what happened and why, and then we must establish what, if anything, can be done to minimise the chance of it happening again.
There will be questioning and anger over gun laws, but any response needs to wait until the facts are known.
Nevertheless, the massacre raises the issue of whether weapons capable of such destruction have any place outside a war zone.
The recent massacre in Scotland and similar massacres in Australia are a reminder that nowhere in the world is immune from violent behaviour.
They are a reminder, too, that it is almost impossible for an open and free society to guard itself such violence.
Has Tasmania reached a stage where we need armed guards at tourist areas on Sunday afternoons? It's a common sight many other countries.
On the evidence of yesterday, the answer is yes.
But the reality in Australia is that it is a price we would not be prepared to pay that if it were to come to that, our society and our lifestyle would be diminished.