The taking of hostages in a cafe in Sydney Australia led to fears of backlash against the Australian Muslim community.
The response instead has been the globally-trending #Illridewithyou.
This is an example of how a crisis can actually provide a trigger to make a situation better. The underlying anti-Muslim feelings were already present, before the hostage crisis. But so were underlying feelings of wanting to support Muslims. The crisis in the cafe provided the opportunity for both sets of feelings to come to the fore and be put into action.
When we face what looks like a challenge, we are also being asked to choose between three possible opportunities:
- To fix the situation
which is what the heavily armed police eventually did, killing the gunman
- To improve the situation
which is what a negotiator might have done, resolving whatever grievances the gunman had
- To resolve the situation and make it unlikely to happen again in the future,
which is the possibility that #Illridewithyou offered.
I find it tragic that the cafe siege ended with three people dead. Perhaps it could have ended with fewer deaths. Perhaps we are lucky that there weren’t more.
But the #Illridewithyou response shows that any challenge also presents an opportunity. And we each get to choose how we respond.