Be the Change…..

Be the Change…..

The Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney's Martin Place used to be a place where people went for a little extra indulgence and delight.  Among the many cafes and coffee shops in the area, it exuded charm and was an extra special place to meet for a treat, whether it be a great coffee, a deluxe hot chocolate or one of the many goodies Lindt is renowned for.  I'd often meet my daughter and/or friends there after I'd finished seeing clients in my Hypnotherapy/Coaching practice just around the corner in Macquarie Street.  I used the Westpac bank literally doors up from it on the other side of the mall.  I'd walk past it on my way to the railway station in order to go home.  At one stage I also worked for Telstra, again just a little way up the road from it.  I'd breeze past it on a sunny day and get by it as fast as possible on brisk, blustery days that threatened to turn my bones to ice.  To me it represented a little bit of luxury and a place associated with relaxation and laughter as part the background of my life.

All of that changed on 15th December 2014 when a gunman suffering from mental illness took a group of people hostage there early in the morning.  The Lindt Chocolate Cafe became a place of terror, of disbelief and tragedy. It went from a bustling, welcoming place where you could sit outside in the sun or snuggle inside and be cosy in the Winter months to one of overwhelming loss and grief.

I found out what was happening about an hour after the seige commenced. I followed it's course with my heart in my mouth, feeling guilty about hoping it wasn't the beginning of something bigger because my sister worked not too far from there. Feeling guilty at the relief I felt when we knew she was okay. Feeling guilty at being relieved because we no longer live in a big city that can be a target for such attacks, but in a small country town where neighbours partying too loudly on a Saturday night is a major annoyance.

My daughter and I stayed up late into the night watching things develop on            television, sending our hopes and prayers out into the world for a safe resolution and with minimal psychological trauma to those involved, but it was not to be.

 

In the early hours of Tuesday morning police moved to resolve the situation by shooting the gunman and amongst the crossfire and confusion, two innocent hostages lost their lives. When I woke to the news that morning my heart went out to them, their families and everyone else affected by the actions of one person.  Today as I sit and type this story in an effort to get my feelings out and to reinforce (if only to myself) that from even tragic things, wonderful things can begin, a candle burns for both of those people and those that love them.  I've been wiping tears from my eyes all morning at the thought.

This whole event has been an unspeakable tragedy.  I can't imagine how the families of those involved must be feeling, particularly so close to Christmas. In amongst all of the grief and loss, however, there has been an amazing spark of hope and a show of solidarity. Sometimes amongst the sensationalism that is inherent in the media nowadays it's difficult to know how the vast majority of people feel about certain issues.  In the recent past it's seemed to me that there has been quite a tide of people adopting an anti-Muslim stance, not just in Australia, but around the world.  The one positive thing I can take from this is that I have been proven wrong and that provides a bright spark of hope in an otherwise desolate landscape.

On her way home from work, while the seige was still happening, Rachael Jacobs saw a women she presumed to be Muslim, take off her hijab, fearing bigotry and reprisals because of the goings-on in Martin Place.  Rachael offered to walk with her if she wanted to put it back on to ensure she was safe and then tweeted about her experience. Another person on Twitter, Sir Tessa, picked it up and suggested the hashtag #illridewithyou be used for those wanting to provide similar support.  The rest is Twitter history.

The thing that moves me most is the incredible support everyday Muslims going about minding their own business have received from the rest of the Australian community. It shows how something that is so senseless and heartbreaking as people losing their lives at the hands of a delusional gunman can bring about amazing openness, honesty and support. Support of a group of people who have been feeling the repercussions of a group of cultists who have as little a place in their society or religious beliefs as in the rest of Australia.  It shows that the time honoured tradition of Australians reaching out to help others in times of extreme stress and trouble is still alive and kicking.

If there's one positive thing to take from all of this, it's that care and compassion for our fellow man flourishes in conditions designed to do the exact opposite.  That in the face of hatred, obsession and fanaticism, reaching out to people who are at risk of being condemned because of superficial commonalities with someone who is obviously ill mentally can turn the tide and cause all of that negativity to wither and die.

It doesn't help us make sense of anything that happened.  It doesn't stop the senseless loss of life and the undeniable trauma that those held as hostages and their families have suffered. What it does do is offer hope that as a group of people, we can make a massive difference.  Today, as the tears roll down my cheeks and my candle keeps me mindful of those who have experienced such tragedy, I pray that the #illridewithyou movement takes all of us one step closer to consistently manifesting the words attributed to Ghandi so long ago:

“Be the change you wish to see in the world”

 

4 Comments

  1. Thank you for a well written post. Yes, i want to be the change I wish to see in m little part of the world too.

  2. I think it’s the only way we can make a difference as individuals, Sandy. Thank you for your comment xx

  3. This is perhaps the most beautiful post I’ve ever read. Thank you for reminding me to be the change I wish to see in the world. Thank you for writing this, for sharing this.

  4. Dar, thank you so much for your wonderful comment. Coming from you, this means a lot. xxx

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