It has been an overwhelming week in Australia. The loss of two beautiful people deeply loved by their family and friends and the emotional trauma experienced by so many more in Martin Place, Sydney is devastating. Australians are also mourning the loss of their innocence, their steadfast belief of personal safety and freedom; that a simple coffee could be freely enjoyed.
From Australia's devastation, #illridewithyou emerged; a simple and thoughtful gesture on public transport that allowed a Muslim woman to walk safely in the company of another. And then, this offer was replicated on social media with #illridewithyou. The fact that it was trending so quickly was hardly surprising. This simple offer highlighted the genuine essence of Australians, the value of mateship and the desire to live in celebration of our amazingly beautiful multicultural Australia. #illridewithyou provided a gentle flickering of hope in an otherwise dark day.
I read Maggie Dent's Facebook post suggesting that #illridewithyou should be applied to the disabled and the elderly. Of course, that's a wonderful idea! But, I want to extend it even further and I'm sure by now her readers have expressed the same sentiments as me ...
So often, these days when I ride on public transport I see people minding their own business; looking at their phones and iPods or staring into space. There is very little communication. In fact the non-verbal communication often suggests that the phone or iPod is of primary importance. Imagine then, if anyone who was prepared to talk to others to assist or just share a friendly word could be recognised by a badge (as suggested by Maggie Dent), or a sticker #illridewithyou. Public transport is an ideal place for this to begin. Perhaps this could even happen when we buy our transport tickets. An elderly person, a young Mum with children or a pram to move, a tourist with a heavy bag or needing directions, a person who just needs a warm smile and a kind word or two would simply look to the badge/sticker and know they had a mate. In the absence of the badge/sticker a simple, 'g'day' would suffice! I have written about this before.
This is the hope, the joy, the rainbow amidst the storm. This is Australia's response that says Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson you are at the forefront of our minds, our thoughts and our prayers. In your memory, and for those who are suffering because of the devastating siege at the Lindt coffee shop, we strive for a nation that truly exudes genuine mateship and a celebration of the rich gift of Australia's diversity with all who grace our shores.