This is our second guest post from LDS_Aussie.

The very first bouquet was left before the daybreak, hours after the tragedy
The very first bouquet was left before the daybreak, hours after the tragedy

Terrorism, in varying forms, has been around for thousands of years. The rise of modern terrorism is one of the main areas of concern for police and security agencies. The need for large armies, equipment, funding and legitimate power bases is largely not required for terrorists to wreak absolute havoc. Think of the economic, political and social upheaval created by a relatively small number of terrorists (19 involved in the actual incident) on 11 September 2001 in the United States.

On the 15 December 2014 about 9:45am a lone armed male entered the Lindt Chocolate Café in Martin Place in the centre of Sydney. He brandished a sawnoff shotgun and took 17 people hostage. Hostages were forced to act as human shields by placing them in windows, including a female with multiple sclerosis, whom the male used as his own personal shield. A number of hostages were forced also to hold a flag with Islamic references. Some demands were made including demands on media outlets to broadcast certain messages. Several hostages escaped during the ordeal, which lasted until about 2:00am the following morning. Police stormed the café immediately after a few more hostages escaped and shots were heard inside. The male was shot by police and two hostages perished in the incident. Another female and a police officer were also shot by the male and received injuries.

A hostage runs into the arms of tactical police
A hostage runs into the arms of tactical police

Terrorism is not new in Australia. We have had our fair share as the following list attests.

  • 1972 bombing of the Yugoslav General Trade Agency in Sydney;
  • 1978 bombing of the Sydney Hilton hotel during a Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting;
  • 1980 assassination of the Turkish Consul-General in Sydney;
  • 1982 bombing of the Israeli Consulate and the Hakoah Club in Sydney;
  • 1986 bombing of the Russell Street Police Station in Melbourne; and
  • 1986 bombing at the Turkish Consulate in Melbourne.

(Terrorist attacks not on Australian soil – Australians have been killed and injured in overseas terrorist attacks such as the 9/11 attacks and the Bali bombings)

However, our social and political environment is most certainly nothing like the West Bank or parts of Northern Ireland. We are a generally peaceful society and the idea of violence, guns and large civil unrest is largely foreign to us.

A sea of flowers at the site of the incident in Martin Place
A sea of flowers at the site of the incident in Martin Place

The “Martin Place Siege” as it has come to be known, has had a massive impact on us. Hearts have been broken for the victims and their families. Outpouring of good will towards them can be seen at the location itself, on social media, radio and TV. We have galvanised as a community. Members of the community have even broken into applause when police officers walk into fast food restaurants to get lunch.

We have not had a 9/11 or a London bombing here – by comparison this incident is small. But it has now put us on the map. Unlike other countries that have suffered such atrocities, we have little to rely on. For the modern generations of Australians, this is uncharted territory

We are still very raw. Our perceptions about the incident will ebb and flow over the course of the coming weeks and months. We have and will change – and in what ways, we do not know. Will hatred and fear, love and acceptance or suspicion and discrimination dominate our future consciousness?

Now is a time of feeling pain and of healing. In time, perspective may shed its light and provide a clarity that is not yet possible for many of us.

Our innocence, or perhaps a part of it, has been lost.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, for me, provides perspective. He Himself was subject to brutal acts of violence stemming from political and religious fear. Interestingly, by so suffering, he provides ways to succor us when acts of barbarity are committed in our cities and towns. He is there and he loves us.

What aspects of the gospel do you rely on when you witness such incidents?

Have you been touched by an act of terrorism?

What provided the most comfort to you?