Deepest sympathy to the victims and families of the victims and all affected by the Sydney siege today. Respect and thanks to the multifaceted team of Australian and NSW police, negotiators, medical services and all who were involved in helping to bring resolution to the situation.
I watched the footage of my hometown through tears in my new home in Europe. Last week a group of 12 years olds from the local school asked me about a cultural value that I appreciate about Australia. Looking after your “mate”, I told them—caring about strangers, looking out for people beyond just friends and family.
And today we have seen the Australian people join together and support one another under the authentically Australian value of “mate-ship”. Comforting those that have been injured, those family members who are suffering now, and those, like all of us, who were shocked and deeply distressed to see these events play out in our beloved country. That mate-ship is a beautiful substance that holds a nation close at times like this.
Fear-inducing words and images abound in news, posts and tweets about the siege, but some comments deserve more attention than they are receiving. Like the #iwillridewithyou campaign reflecting a diverse, caring heartbeat of Australia that refuses to let mates be stereotyped. And Rev. Dr. Michael Frost’s statement: “Here’s how my city Sydney responds to a terrorist siege: we resist the terror.”
Canada’s media employed an excellent approach in the recent crisis that took place in Ottawa as they focused on the heroes, not the perpetrators. So, today, let’s not share about his motives, retweet facts about his life, or dwell on the sordid details. Let’s share about the people who stood together, comforted one another, and resisted the terror. These stories matter. We can compel the evil to take its inferior place and be forgotten, highlighting and remembering the love and courage of the Australian people in honour of all those who have endured this trial.
We need not live in fear, but in love. “Love drives out fear.” And we need not live in hate, but in love, as hate only imprisons us, making us captive to our enemies. Let’s walk forward, as Australians do, pursuing justice and love, joining together, a nation of diverse people who stand together against such evil. Let’s let Jason Maggs’s words ring true: “In your attempt to scare our nation you have galvanized our mate-ship.”
Words by Jonathan McCallum
Photo of my daughter by our friend Sara, see her work here