This morning I watch the news with tears in my eyes…
My heart goes out to those affected by the Sydney siege, an event which is now at it’s conclusion, but will live on in our hearts, minds and future actions.
Like many Australians I am well travelled and having spent half of my life in Melbourne, I left Australian shores for a life in the Middle East in 1999 with the misguided notion that because I’d grown up in a city with a melting pot of nations that I understood how the world worked and the people living in it.
It wasn’t until I returned to Australia in 2006, having spent 6.5 years living in Dubai, traveling around the globe working for Emirates Airline, working with & managing people from over 100 different nationalities and cultures, that I begin to appreciate how misguided this notion was.
Every day around me I see a casual racism that’s so prevalent and ingrained in Australian “culture” that it’s glossed over, passed off and readily accepted as good humour, whilst in reality has an ongoing impact much more than the user can quantify and know.
What many of us forget is that all of us living on this world’s largest island, a land of wondrous beauty and contrasts, are originally are from somewhere else… black, white, green & gold, true blue… even our indigenous Australians originally came to this land mass some 40,000+ years ago… it existed long before we all got here and will continue to do so long after we’ve left this earth.
Now more than ever, in the wake of the awful events that have just transpired, I’m hopeful that as Australians we can pull together as a people and use the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the diverse range of people across a range of cultures and nationalities that live within our borders.
Many of us fail to stop, recognize and appreciate that essentially as a species we’re all the same in so many ways – watching in wonder as a loved one’s small child takes it’s first steps or the magic of making that child smile as we cradle him or her in our arms, watching as our family puppy does something stupid and makes us laugh, working our hands to the bone during the week, so that we can all enjoy the simple pleasures of spending time in the company of family and friends at night and on weekends, listening to much-loved songs or going out to a live show, cheering on our favourite sports teams, the desire to travel and learn… we all have our own little quirks and idiosyncrasies, we all fear, we all hate, we all love, we all love… and this is what I want us to focus on…
Our fear of those different to us and the fear of the unknown is where prejudice is born, but once we take the time to look beyond colour, race, creed and actually get to know our fellow man the world is a different place. When we step outside of what we think we know to learn more about our fellow man and embrace our differences, we open ourselves up to realizing that we’re not so different after-all.
When you step outside into the world today, with the events of Sydney siege not far from your mind, do me a favour and do one thing that I guarantee will give you fresh perspective, a burst of positive energy and put a smile in your heart.
Take the time to perform a random act of kindness for a complete stranger – whether it be to hold a door open for someone coming up behind you and allowing them to walk through first, getting up to give another your seat on the train/tram/bus/ferry, saying hi and ask the person behind the counter how their day’s been or even sharing the simplest act of kindness through a compliment or smile.
With small steps we can work towards making a positive impact on those within our own world and it’s wonderful how one simple, selfless act can generate warmth, energy and love.
From the red deserts of central Australia, to the mountaintops of snow and pristine beaches lapped by turquoise and aqua waves – like our land, the people in it are blessed to be able to enjoy a wealth of contrasts and we are better for it.
We are many. We are different, yet still so much the same and by looking out for our fellow man we become strong.
We all love. We are as one.
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