On the week of the anniversary of the Sydney siege, Lindt Cafe employee Jarrod Morton-Hoffman has released a powerful essay that manages to capture the personally terrifying ordeal, while also issuing a clearheaded response to the attack.
He describes literally staring down the barrel of a gun during the incident, in which his colleague Tori Johnson and patron Katrina Dawson were killed.
“For 17 hours, my fellow hostages and I learnt firsthand how powerless it felt to be at the near total mercy of another — to live or die by the decisions of a madman all too eager to play God.”
His recollections quickly turn to contemplation, though. Morton-Hoffman uses the piece to describe his emotions turning from anger to “fear and remorse – fear for my friends and family, and remorse for leaving Tori behind.”
“Once I realised this, I knew I had to let go… Fear is the very emotion that terrorists seek to spread.
Inherently, terrorism can be seen as an extremely violent performance designed to catch the attention of the public and broadcast the terrorist’s goals. For Monis, that goal was to threaten us for our involvement in Syria and Iraq.
His objective was to spread fear. His success or failure is based solely on our choice to either remain afraid or be brave.”
Further reflection brings him to understand the difference between the actions a lone madman and the intentions of an entire religion.
“While I was angry with a guilty man who happened to be Muslim, some are angry and fearful of innocent men and women because they are Muslim.”
“In the end they have succeeded in persuading a minority of people into scapegoating all Muslims for the actions of a few and to engage in rash vigilantism against the greater Muslim community.
His closing words sum those emotions up, as he says “I hope that in years coming we will not have to also mourn the loss of our empathy and foresight.”
“Rather, I hope that we look back proudly that we overcame knee-jerk fear and ignorance, and instead chose to work together and make a difference in a world that needs people to do just that.”
You can read the entire essay here.
Photo: 60 Minutes.