On this Tuesday morning, Australia- particularly Sydney- has already been through a harrowing day and night, most of us having gone to bed wary of what we might wake to this morning. As an armed siege unfolded from yesterday morning in a busy Sydney CBD café, we saw five hostages escape and were heartened. People we know worried for family and their safety through the lockdown.
Today, it wasn’t to be as we’d hoped without loss of life: two names and faces were released this morning, bringing a chill of harsh reality as the story continues to fill itself out. No, we are not used to this. We are so fortunate, not to be used to this. Flags will fly at half-mast.
— Matt Doran (@mattdoran22) December 15, 2014
Social media has and continues to bring us upsetting information. The gunman, also now dead, was out on bail for a list of horrific offences. Our justice system has a great deal to answer for. I can only hope these events and the fallen will finally bring some much needed attention to this. It can’t be for nought. It stands to reason there are others out there like him still. It is inexcusable.
BUT horrible circumstances can also bring out the best in people and this is what I need to highlight. Forget the detractors. The outpouring of support with the #illridewithyou hashtag all through Twitter was a beautiful thing to see (brilliance, @sirtessa). And there was so much more. I want this time in Australia’s history to reflect this above all else. This is the Australia I identify with and am so proud of.
— Mohamed Taha (@Mo_Taha1) December 15, 2014
— ABC News (@abcnews) December 15, 2014
“Maybe it’s the smaller groups I feel more comfortable with; maybe it’s my impeccable taste in human beings or, if I’m feeling karmically blessed, the types I attract. But I want to say again how proud of those in my networks I am to know, see and hear.Tragedy is tragedy. I’d never diminish lives taken, suffering or healing needed. There are losses and irreconcilable injustices in this world but hate is not the answer to hate; it’s the opposite.If this changes us in any way, it should make us more open, not less. More giving, not less. More understanding, not less. Yes, our justice system needs reform.For those who are now shaken, angered or made to suffer fools my thoughts and sentiments are also with you.In the conduct of many, and in that the outcome could have been worse I’ve seen much to hold faith in yet. Thank you.
And I am grateful. I am and I choose to be. Grateful for the safety of my loved ones, to be safe in my home, for my friends, for the love still in the world, for the soft bed I fell into last night. Grateful for how the events have been handled, by Sydneysiders and the authorities. For the supreme blessing that I live in a safe country where mercifully, scenes such as yesterday’s are the overwhelming exception to the rule and not our daily reality. Grateful for gun control. Grateful my kids have been protected from that which they are not yet ready to know.
My sincerest thoughts are with the families of those taken. For them (and for all victims or survivors of any violence), may their loss be honoured with much needed change. But it should not change who we are.
Special note: I’d originally decided I wouldn’t post today. I agree with those who suggested it would be a respectful move not to hit the internet with our regularly planned frivolities. But then I felt a need to honour the day after and look at the things I am grateful for in the wake of such unpleasantness. It helps me make sense of the world and to not be beaten by it. If my words today help anyone else, I can only be thankful for that too.