I know I am a bit late in talking about this, which is not a good thing as everything about the online world is about being instant but I had to blog about this.
Earlier this week a siege in Sydney was shown on news outlets around the globe as many were kidnapped inside a café and some lost their lives. This was an awful story and big news, as compared to some other developed countries Australia had not had to deal with too many headlines about terror attacks in their country before.
I came home from work that day saddened by the news but then my wife told me about something that gave me hope. My wife showed me the online postings of many Australians using the hashtag #illridewithyou. For those not familiar with this, this is what Australians were posting soon after news broke of the attack to tell the Muslim population, their fellow Australians that if they were worried about travelling anywhere because of fear of reprisals that they would accompany them on their journey.
From an event that sparked fear in the hearts of many, Australians reacted with a message of love, tolerance and community. We may never know how many people did ride or walk with someone who was fearful but I think that this worked on many levels. Not only was this practical support it also spread a message to everyone, that Australia isn’t a country that would tolerate the harassment of others because of their faith which I think probably stopped a lot of that kind of behavior before it had chance to start.
In crisis and terror situations I think many members of the general public feel helpless or feel that they want to help but don’t know how but this simple hashtag showed that people can take back control. This campaign started spontaneously and was people power at its best. It showed that love is how you win people over and support them not fear or hatred.
I had the pleasure of spending 3 weeks travelling across Australia in 2011 and I can honestly say that I found Australians on the whole to be an amazing bunch of people that really do care and look out for each other. If you were ever thinking of going to Australia don’t concentrate on the siege, think about how the masses showed how much they cared for each other.