By Jarrod Morton-Hoffman
On the week of the anniversary of the Sydney siege, Lindt Cafe employee Jarrod Morton-Hoffman revisits the moment he came face-to-face with a madman.
A year ago, I found myself staring down the barrel of a gun.
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.
Unlike many others this year, I was lucky enough to escape largely unharmed.
A year on, I still struggle to comprehend the senselessness of it all.
At first I was angry. In the months following the siege I eagerly waited for the media’s coverage of his life, his history and his beliefs to dwindle to a standstill. I hoped to watch his name die alongside his body.
Perhaps because within the brain the connections that control our emotions are so closely knit together, I have found that what we think is anger may be something else entirely.
Over time, I’ve realised that what I thought was anger was really just misplaced 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 not a smart emotion to act on. Indeed, 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.
Global violence and misguided reactions equally frightening
Since last December, there have been many other tragedies across the globe.
Men, women and children from different cultures, faiths and nationalities have been indiscriminately killed, wounded and terrorised by evil groups in the name of evil ideologies.
These acts are undeniably saddening and frightening. While I will not pretend that I can, or ever will be able to, wholly appreciate the horror some victims of terror have experienced this year, I cannot help but empathise with them on some collective level of mutual understanding and pain.
I wish them peace and a swift physical and emotional recovery.
However, what has been equally frightening and saddening has been the use of these atrocities by some to promote hatred, violence and fear.
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.
Goaded by a small band of racist, fear-mongering public figures eager to perpetuate their bigoted dogma by exploiting the global public’s mutual pain and anger in the aftermath of terror attacks like those recently in Parramatta, Paris, Beirut, London and San Bernardino, these individuals attempt to rehash a xenophobic us-versus-them Orientalist dichotomy and exploit the tribal, close-minded fear of the other deeply buried within some.