It’s hard to write what I’m really feeling tonight. Thirty six hours ago a gunman took hostages in the Lindt cafe in Martin Place in Sydney, and about seventeen hours later, the gunman and two hostages died.
By all accounts, the gunman was a nutter with a previous record of violence and the two hostages performed acts of heroism.
For most of the siege and even now, the reasons behind the siege are unknown, or simply haven’t been made public. There has been a lot of speculation, and a lot of commentary on social media and the media in general.
I’ve seen the best of Australia and, sadly from a few, the worst. Our media (for the most part) have been restrained, respectful and helpful. Commentators have (mostly) stayed away from wild speculation. Friends (except for the very odd one) on Facebook and Twitter have focused on national unity and rising above divisive behaviour.
The #illridewithyou hashtag on Twitter is a fabulous demonstration of the good that social media can do. I sat stunned last night, alternately watching the feeds of #illridewithyou and #sydneysiege, feeling proud of my fellow Australians.
You see, the thing a terrorist wants most to do is to create terror, division and instability. They want their actions to overwhelm the victims and the country in which their acts take place – whether they’re working alone or in a group.
There are Australians who will choose to allow this isolated incident to fuel their hatred of everything muslim, but I was encouraged almost more than I can express, to see the determination of the majority of my fellow Australians to deliberately promote unity in the face of this dreadful act.
There’s a song that I love that symbolises this country probably better than just about anything else. It’s called ‘I Am Australian’ and was written by Bruce Woodley. It’s times like this that I wish it was our national anthem. The words remind us that we are all Australian, no matter our background. I am, you are, we are Australian. #illridewithyou
Click here to listen to it.