The terrible events at a Sydney café yesterday through last night remind all Australians that violence and terror are not far from our doorsteps.
Although we live in what we have traditionally regarded as a safe haven far from the war and terrorist torn regions of the world, the fact is that every day Australians of all stripes and colours go through horrendous events brought on by hatred, violence, rage, despair and a callous disregard for the sanctity of life. Amongst those tragedies are the myriad blows that accost people through the mere tyranny of circumstance – an horrific injury, a diagnosis of cancer, a fatal accident.
Rising up and carrying on in the face of these tragedies is a task that demands the most from us. It is easy to become angry, bitter or resentful and to give up values and ideals for the sake of a so-called ‘justice’ or to ‘make things right’ in our heads.
But the reality is that life does not present anyone with a pristine set of circumstances. It’s messy and at times wearying. But we do have something that can change all of that: that is, others.
One of the most difficult things to do in times of grief is to receive the help of others. It is the myth of our Western generation that we must be self-sufficient. That we must carry the load ourselves. That we must be the sole bearers of our burdens.
When you are faced by overwhelming loss and grief. When the mother of your children had gone merely to have a coffee and ended dying in the clutches of a madman. When you cannot face getting up and facing the world, then know that there are others out there praying for you, offering you a helping hand, willing to be the shoulder you place your hand on to help you get up and carry on.
And for those of us who are in a position to help, to lend comfort and aid, we can make the time in our schedules, we can put off that work, we can sit in silence with our friends, waiting for them and simply being there for them, at the most critical time in their lives. You will never be more grateful that you took the time to help someone else.
That helping hand is the real legacy of Australian mateship – not sacrifices on battlefields, but the sacrifice of giving a helping hand to anyone in need.
My prayers go out for the families of those killed at the Lindt café in Sydney – families of both the victims and the perpetrator – and also for all those who suffered through this nightmare, in and outside of the café.
May the people around them come together so that they can rise up again with hope of a better day to come.
© 2014 Peter J. McLean