I rarely blog about public incidents. But what transpired yesterday and in the early hours of today in Sydney is not a public event. It is an intensely personal reality. We each have the right to go to work, to buy a coffee, to stand in line, to have our minds elsewhere in a coffee shop. We all have the right to do so safely, and to return home once more.
These are merely my reflections. This is not well written, but is from a place of sadness and pain. I ask that in the following hours, days, weeks and months, you respond to yesterday’s events with compassion, loving kindness, intelligence and empathy.
Hate does not cure hate.
I am sorry.
I am sorry that you went to buy coffee, thoughts in another time, another place. I am sorry for what came next.
I am sorry that you tied your apron around your waist, hands rested on the counter. I am sorry that these hands were then forced, splayed across the window pane, leaving grubby, exposed prints for the world to see.
I am sorry that while you fought for your life, that we filmed your every move. I am sorry that while a gun was pointed towards your flesh, so too were the world’s camera’s, greedy and clambering with sticky fingers, hungry for the breaking scoop, the clearest image of your pained cheeks, filling themselves with your pain.
I am sorry that we watched. I am sorry that we each sat transfixed to our screens, television, iPhone and laptops alike. I am sorry that the more the media gave to us, the more we demanded more, slapping forks upon plates. Feed us, give us more.
I am sorry that we all had an opinion. I am sorry that while you quivered, stood resolute, wet yourself or bargained, we all busily threw our thoughts into the ether. It’s Terrorism. It’s the act of an individual. We need to just storm in there and get him. Why don’t the hostages just overpower him? It’s not that hard.
I am sorry for the hours that never ended. I am sorry that we sat in our homes and remarked ‘Jesus, it’s been hours’. I am sorry that while we ate dinner, walked the dog, made love, read a book, vacuumed, you were still there. I am sorry that you did not have your dinner, and your dog, and your books, and your vacuum cleaner, and your lover. I am sorry that you had to wait.
I am sorry that this is what your job asks of you. I am sorry that you stood in blue, black and overalls. I am sorry that you train for these situations continually, but that now you had to live it. I am sorry that you stood, guns and radios and stethoscopes waiting.
I am sorry that you knew the longer you had to stand there and wait, the longer people had to suffer. I am sorry that there was nothing you could do, for so, so many hours.
I am sorry that this was yours. I am sorry that it was your husband, your wife, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your Mum, your Dad, your grandparent, your son, your daughter, your grandchild, your niece, your nephew, your aunty, your uncle, your lover, your ex, your friend, your colleague, your neighbour. I am sorry that it was your person inside. And I am sorry that you had to be outside.
I am sorry that your community, your belief system, your religion was vilified. I am sorry for the ignorance, for the claims that you were to blame as you went about your lives. I am sorry that there had to be a hashtag in order to keep you safe from the actions of a man you had never met. I am sorry for the threats, for the fear, for the fact you felt the need to remove your Hijab, Niqam, Burka or Dupatta.
I am sorry that you did this. I am sorry that your heart could not see loving kindness, sense or compassion. I am sorry that you chose cruelty over compassion, suffering over sense, killing over kindness. I am sorry that you chose to end and destroy lives, and that now, that cannot be undone.
I am sorry that you had to survive. I am sorry that for the remainder of your life, you will know that your heart beats and contracts, and that the hearts of two others do not. I am sorry that you will jump at loud noises, fall to the ground at shouts, vomit during the evening’s news. I am sorry that you ever had to survive this in the first place. But I am so very glad that you lived.
I am sorry that you had to die. I am sorry that you went to buy a coffee, or to make one. And I am sorry that you will never come home. I am sorry that your flesh is now the responsibility of the pathologist and coroner, and I am sorry that your family must identify you, love you, farewell you and bury you. I am sorry that you will miss out on the rest of your life.
Most of all I am sorry that this is what we have come to. I am sorry that we are the best and worst of humanity, and that we are forever getting the balance wrong.