Safety it would seem is not in numbers

‘The Lindt cafe siege was very distressing for everyone. I used to work very close to that building, in my first job as a clerk in the Taxation Office, which was in the upper floors of the Commonwealth Bank building on Martin Place. And Lily had been planning to go that cafe on Monday, to use a Groupon voucher for Lindt chocolates! Gift buying can be hazardous! That tragedy is a reminder that life is precious. I suggest that you give someone a hug and give them some Lindt chocolates. God bless, all the best and keep in touch.’ — Rob Ryan​, Aussie journalist turned ESL teacher


Police stand near a police line to stop pedestrian access close to a cafe under siege at Martin Place in Sydney, Australia (AP)

It was a harrowing scene unfolding, hands of the hostages up against the windows of the Lindt Chocolat Cafe … shaking. Whatever was being said, the stress was etched in their faces.

It’s a day Sydney will never forget. A “lone wolf” attack inspired by radical Islam.

Sadly as flowers flowed into Martin Place another tragedy was unfolding, this time in Pakistan: 145 mostly children slaughtered by Taliban terrorists in a school attack.

It makes one feel that safety is not in numbers and if you read news reports about previous lone wolf attacks, it appears safety is all but lost. NBC News reminds us about “the killing of a Canadian soldier in broad daylight, followed by a shootout in Parliament and a hatchet attack on two New York City police officers posing for a photo on the sidewalk.

CNN goes further to suggest we get “used to a new normal” way of living where terrorism is part of our daily lives. We just have to “live with this risk”!

All in the name of Citizen Jihadists inspired by the words of Abu Mohammed al-Adnani in a 42-minute audio statement in September which appeared to be a rallying cry, according to a The Boston Globe report.

‘‘If you can kill a disbelieving American or European — especially the spiteful and filthy French — or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that joined a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be.’’

It’s really hard to go about your day-to-day business with thoughts running through your mind as to whether you’re safe in your own backyard. But Sydneysiders must, especially now the Christmas season here, a time when thousands of Australians take a summer break and travel in numbers, participate in sports events from fun-runs to fund-raising.

Now is not the time to let terrorists win. Perhaps Australians can find some comfort in the comments of Americans quoted in USA Today after the Boston bombing:

“Joy is where one finds it, but we can’t let terrorists stop us from looking for it.” — Rich Barnes

“Just how safe are we as a nation of freedoms? We are as free as we make ourselves. We can cower in the dark corners of our basements, or we can show that our freedom is stronger than any radical group or individual. Stand up and show that we are strong and not afraid to face our greatest fears to stomp out people who intend to do us harm.” — Lou Creole

In the words of US World War II’s General “Vinegar Joe:  Illegitimi non carborundum or perhaps more importantly now than ever: If you see something, say something!

Judy Wilkinson is an Australian freelance writer and blogger, currently based in Chicago, USA, and returning home for the summer holidays.

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