#I’ll Ride With You

#I'll Ride With YouIn the same way that 9/11 changed the face of the US thirteen years ago, the Sydney siege changed the perceived protective mask of Australia yesterday.

Considered by the rest of the world as a sunny, safe haven, the siege reminded us Sydneysiders that no-where is safe from discrimination and terror.

Within minutes of the hostage-taker walking into that cafe in Martin Place, our city was reduced to a war zone, with large sections of the city in lock down, roads gridlocked, the haunting sound of sirens blaring and the persistent whirring of helicopters scouring the skies above.

But two inspiring actions stood out for me yesterday, amid the intense live media coverage that so vividly depicted one of the country’s worst fears being played out.

The first was the Twitter hashtag #I’ll ride with you – a simply worded gesture that symbolised the solidarity and community felt by most Australian citizens towards each other – that we protect each other, no matter what our creed or the provocation aimed at us. #I'll Ride With You

The second was the coming together of religious leaders as a united front, representative all those many different religions, in a mosque at Lakemba – again, proof that religion does not define us, like love, morality and an understanding of the intrinsic differences between right and wrong do.

Since 9/11 and the racial riots in the Sydney suburb of Cronulla nearly ten years ago, there have been persistent rumblings and antagonism towards the Muslim community in Australia, sadly, as there have been in many corners of the world.

We are not perfect as a nation.

It would be nice to say we have created a nirvana where cultures work together and are fully embracing of each other’s ideas, but sadly that is the ideal rather than always the case. Historically, ‘difference’ has created tension within societies and although what we do have in Australia is a wonderful multi-cultural patchwork that forms a society that we should be proud of, occasionally cultures and ideas clash, especially in the face of danger.

It would be reassuring to know that the tide will turn now, after the tragedy that shook us yesterday and those poor hostages caught in the crossfire in that Lindt cafe. And that the lives of those two hostages, so tragically lost, will not have been in vain. But let us hope, above all, that the events that took place yesterday make us question our own judgments, our values and the way we look at others.

Let those events make us think twice before we stereotype.

Because what came out of yesterday, and in particular what the ‘I’ll Ride With You’ Twitter campaign encapsulated, was that the majority of us are simple human beings, with simple needs for basic values. We’re not extreme, fundamentalist crazies. We may come from different cultures and have different religious beliefs, but we share the same integral values of freedom, life, respect, and love for each other.

Yesterday proved that as a community we stick together in the face of danger and refuse to let anyone destroy those shared values.

2 thoughts on “#I’ll Ride With You

  1. The lasting effects of an event like this may stay with you forever. Terrorism on any scale is exactly that … terrifying… Tragedies like earthquakes, wildfires and tornados are sorrowful and awful… but there is little underlying residual fear of those things happening randomly and at the hands of someone by choice. I am an American, and I live in the mid-west BUT I remember exactly where I was on 9/11 when news of the first plane hitting the towers was announced…in that instance we wanted to believe it was a tragic accident, a plane with engine or mechanical trouble… a sad terrible event… and then I saw the second plane hit the trade towers via live tv coverage …and we knew, as a nation, it was not an accident… we saw the towers crumble and collapse… the shear number of deaths in those moments…then news of the attack on the Pentagon… the plane that crashed in a field instead of its intended target entirely due to the selfless actions of the passengers on the plane, who knew they too would likely perish… and the days of searches, and more death…the country sending rescue workers from across the nation…and more deaths… the days of quite skies except for the fighter jets overhead and the military helicopters… the constant media coverage… the understanding that we were not safe … we had been touched by acts of violence, up close and personal on a MASSIVE scale… this was not the first terrorist attack in the US, but it was MASSIVE in scale and area and coverage…we woke up to the fact that we could be reached by the long arm of hatred and intolerance… As a nation we tried to stand together, but many were suspect of any others that did not share their religion or views … and then the anniversaries … the remembering of all those events and feelings… I would say ‘in the end’, but there is no end, we have been changed… but we can not live in fear or hatred, or we lose… more than we have already lost. With all of that said … My heart truly goes out to all of you going thru the on-going events and emotions of what happened on Monday and Tuesday. May you all find peace and hope and strength.

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I still can’t watch the footage of 9/11 so I understand how much your way of life must have been so irrevocably changed by such a terrible tragedy. But we have to remember that terrorists are really only a tiny percentage of people and do not represent how most of us feel about each other and the love we share as human beings for others. No-one will forget about the lives lost in the US or Australia – heroes through and through.

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