This week has been one of utmost sadness in our little city. On Monday morning, a lone gunman entered a café that I have visited many times over the years and proceeded to take patrons and staff hostage, all in the name of a peaceful, loving religion. The events that followed have been well reported and I am sure by now, the entire world is aware of the tragic outcome.
This post is not a recollection of the events of that day but a show of respect for those who have been intimately affected by what happened and a call for calm and rational thinking.
I cannot imagine what it must feel like for the families and friends of the two innocent people who lost their lives in this tragedy. Looking back on saying farewell to your mother, father, wife, husband, sister or brother on a regular Monday morning as they departed for work, only to never see them again must be harrowing. To these people, I want you to know that the whole community is behind you. We are feeling and sharing your loss.
With emotions running high, the realisation that our little country has changed forever is beginning to sink in. Our geographical distance from the sadness and terror that has touched much of the world no longer keeps us safe. Our decision to blindly follow the US into wars over the years is beginning to affect us. Not like it did in 2002 when many Australians lost their lives in a senseless bombing on a foreign land, but in our own backyard. Australia, the lucky country isn’t feeling so lucky anymore.
In the wake of Monday’s events, certain factions of the community have reacted in different ways. The outpouring of grief and sadness has dominated the media and the landscape of our beautiful city. Muslim groups have come forward showing their support and pleading, with a community that they are very much a part of, for forgiveness for an act that they had nothing to do with. To these people I say this -the vast majority of this community does not want to see you suffer because one mad man has committed an unforgivable act in the name of a peace loving religion. Anyone with a moderate level of intelligence knows that Islam promotes peace. They know that you are a peace-loving people and they believe that you are welcome and have a home in our community.
We have seen social media campaigns, such as #illridewithyou, promoting love and understanding. We have heard stories of Muslim women removing their hijab on public transport because of embarrassment, only to be told to dress as they like by other commuters who know that the actions of one mad man should not be projected onto other members of the community.
Unfortunately, there have been isolated instances of racial hate and propaganda. To these people, I encourage you to look into what is happening in the world and not judge innocent people based on the race, religion or country in which they were born. You are a minority and your views and prejudices are not shared or welcomed by the vast majority of Australians. While what happened is sad, fighting hate with hate will never have a good outcome. This lesson has been learned time and time again throughout history. I urge you to look at the big picture and put yourself in the shoes of the people you are all too quick to persecute. The old lesson of think before you speak is of the utmost importance in times like this.
The world has changed. We are no longer the lucky country, a million miles from anywhere. The issues that face the world, the issues we have chosen to involve ourselves in are here to stay. The only way we can overcome them is by sticking together as one. We are no longer separated by race, religion, colour or borders. We are separated into those who love and those who aim to terrorise.