UPDATE, 10:50EST: It’s over. After 16 hours, Sydney police have swarmed the café and paramedics have entered. What we have now is the duty as humans to show true compassion towards others and to begin to understand what happened in Sydney.
The Sydney hostage crisis has been ongoing for hours now. Since last night, up to thirty people have been held hostage by a gunman–thought to be an Iranian refugee–and have been forced to wave a black Islamic flag from the window of the Lindt café in Sydney’s central business district.
This is a terrible act.
Thirty people are being held in a state of perpetual limbo–not knowing what to expect when at the hands of a crazed man. Yet, out these horrors come wonders.
Islamophobia is a major problem worldwide. Like the fear of anything else that is different or foreign, Islamophobia begins with the recognition that a human being is different and can spiral into the commission of hate crimes on par with those that the fearful are afraid of. It’s a vicious cycle that can be easily broken.
Cue Twitter. The #illridewithyou hashtag began after the hostage crisis started as a statement of solidarity with the rest of the Muslim community–victimized doubly by this crime. First off are the Australian Muslims, for whom this hostage crisis is as much of a direct attack to them as Australians as it is to Tony Abbot, their current prime minister. Secondly are the Muslims around the world, already victimized by acts that radicals who happened to be Muslim committed–these are the people, American, Australian, German, French, Indonesian, Iranian, who live in constant fear of backlash from those afraid of their faith.
Constant fear is not a way to live.
#illridewithyou began as a promise of the general Australian population to ride with and protect Muslim riders on the metro from retaliatory hate crimes. But it’s become a whole lot more.
The right way to love others is unconditionally.
That’s all there is to it.
Today, not matter where we come from, we are all Australians. We stand with Sydneyans against the hostage taker, for the safe return of the hostages, and for the safety of everyone–regardless of their religious beliefs. We know that Muslims stand a greater risk of being attacked in the next few days. We know that our governments are going to be on higher alert.
We know that people are involved.
Real, living people living their own lives with their own stories, concerns, joys and despairs stand to be affected in this incident despite their complete innocence and belief in a religion that professes peace over all other things, just like any other religion.
#illridewithyou is a chance to love others. It’s our chance to make our world a better place as long as we’re willing to take the action. No matter where we live, let’s take the time to be intentionally kinder today. Flooding the entire planet with love is the only way to begin to undo the evil and hate coming out of the Lindt café.
Let’s ampliy the love coming out of Sydney.
Let’s match it with love coming out of wherever we live.
No mattter who you are, I’ll ride with you.