The entire country is still reeling from the events that occurred in Sydney’s CBD on Monday, December 15. The Lindt Cafe in Martin Place was sieged, and seventeen people were held hostage by an armed man for a shocking seventeen-hour stand-off.
I do not wish to discuss the issue, nor to divulge the details about this tragic and unfortunate incident, but it must not go unspoken about.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing when a customer came into my workplace and asked if any of us had been following the news. I shook my head, like all the others, and watched as her face fell into grief and disbelief as she spoke of the events that were unfolding in the heart of one of Australia’s most popular destinations. My heart ached. I ached for every hostage involved, and the families and other loved ones of every single person involved or affected by the hostage. It’s the worst kind of news you could bear early on a Monday morning, and couldn’t help but spend the rest of my shift disconnected from my surroundings. I prayed for the welfare and safe return of every hostage to the waiting arms of their families.
As with many others, I had the news on from the moment I got home up until late that night. From the moment the unfortunate siege began, just before 10am that morning, almost all news stations were broadcasting the scene. Updates were given regularly throughout the day, as everyone (all around Australia) held their breath and prayed for good news. Several times the Prime Minister of Australia, as well as members of the police force, interjected to give a press conference and condone the actions of the police and also to provide as much information as possible. However, nothing could be taken away from the chilling footage that we all saw.
We saw hostages escaping, feeling, running for their lives.
We heard that three men had escaped, then two women.
We saw the grief and despair on their faces as they clung to the arms of the nearest police officers.
We saw the moment the siege ended, when gunshots rang out from within the cafe and the police stormed in.
My hearts went out to the victims, thier families, friends and loved ones, but also to the police who actively worked those incredibly long hours working to resolve the situation as peacefully as possible. Nothing but the utmost respect and praise must be given to these men and women, who so unwaveringly serve to protect us every day. They risk their lives, and that is an act most noble and worthy of attention.
What must be remembered, and noted, is the retaliation of this incident. The entire nation has come together, as it does in the face of such tragedy, to demonstrate that we’re still united. We will not be beaten by this. We are united in our grief and in our sorrow, but as a country we will learn, and grow and never forget the two courageous souls lost. Hundreds upon thousands of Sydney-siders have stormed Martin Place today to pay their respects to the two deceased hostages, as well as to show that they will not forget about what’s happened. Men, women and children alike have left messages, shed tears and even made a love heart shaped out of Lindt chocolate balls in the most heart-felt display of compassion. These acts of tolerance and respect regardless of race, religion and ethnicity have inspired everyone to come together now more than ever to stand up, in solidarity, against such acts of inhumanity. We cannot afford to let such acts break us, or defy us, but instead let this fuel the change that must be seen.We all have the right to stand up. We must express love, for only love can overcome hatred, as only light can overcome darkness.
We have proven, over and over, that we’re a compassionate people, that in the light of human pain we can all provide help and support.
I personally have never been more proud to call myself an Australian and to live in a place so free and so united.
If you can, in any way, show your support, please use the hashtag #illridewithyou because we cannot afford to be broken.