This week has been a harrowing one, for Australia, for Pakistan.
We all know about the siege in Sydney. On Monday, Australia watched in horror to the same newsreel repeated all day. Operational tactics rightly dictated that there was very little information disseminated about the siege while it was in progress.
We woke up the next day to images of the police storming the cafe, terrified hostages running from the building, ambulance officers performing CPR. The shocking news that two hostages died. It was heartbreaking watching the news in the morning.
It has taken me a few days to get my head around things.
Basically, it was a bad man doing a bad thing. Bad men often have a rap sheet. There is talk about whether this could have been prevented if he were not out on bail. That's probably a very valid question. I can think of a few instances where bailed or paroled criminals have gone on to commit murder. We could be more swift to incarcerate, or at least watch these people more closely. I would imagine that there would be some logistical issues with that, namely that the jails would be full. We can't pre-emptively jail people before they have been found guilty. That may not even work.
This was an absolutely outrageous act, but fortunately, it is exceedingly rare, compared with most other countries. It is tempting to ask "what did we do wrong", but the better question would be "how can we continue to do right?"
Why is this sort of violent crime against strangers (as opposed to by a partner, that's a different kettle of fish) so rare?
We all remember the horror of the Port Arthur Massacre back in 1996. After the event, then-Prime Minister John Howard very swiftly acted to tightly control access to automatic and semi-automatic weapons. So that deals with the access issue.
We are a relatively wealthy country, and democratic. There is not the gross income inequality we see in North and South America, or Africa. Nobody needs to commit crime to get enough money to eat or live. There are those who might wish to harm us as a country, and these people are stopped by our functional law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Fear and hate breed violence. We have our share of bigots and xenophobes, but this is counterbalanced by a large part of the community that believe that we do well if we embrace other cultures. Even if we don't embrace, we tolerate happily. We could have felt incredibly helpless as we watched the news on Monday, instead people took action and proclaimed hashtagillridewithyou. Love and compassion are the best antidotes to hate and violence, and we definitely took that route on Monday.
Short of pre-emptively locking up every sociopath, we need to keep up the good work we are doing, and ensure that the social checks are kept in place.
Now, the horrors in Pakistan. 141 people, mostly children, massacred in a school, by the Taliban.
I can't get my head around why anyone would do that.
Christmas is almost upon us.
We are having a family event on Christmas eve. Christmas day, it is just the two of us - members of my family have work or other events. We haven't had any invitations. I felt quite sad about that. I had been hoping that there may be a little one around to spoil next Christmas, but what will be will be, and hoping too hard will put too much pressure on things.
I have embraced the situation by reserving us a night in a hotel in the city for christmas, with a big buffet breakfast. Then in the evening we will drink wine and eat cheese. It will be a day of rest, we are both pooped. We are off to NZ after Christmas, and we are immensely looking forward to it.
The events of this week have reminded me to be grateful for the wonderful people that I have around me.
If we don't talk before, a safe and blessed festive period to you and yours.