Aftermath of Oneliners

by Jinryu

The hostage situation in Martin Place Sydney is now over. Some thoughts while it’s fresh in my head.

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One of the people who died, I’m sure I’ve seen him around before– he’s an employee at that Lindt Cafe and I’m sure he’s even served me on a half dozen occasions.

The other hostage who died, I don’t think I’ve ever met her personally. But I think she’s the brother of a work colleague of my boss.

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While it is true that everyone knows someone who dies, and indeed, everyone knows someone who dies, real violence is something that most of us don’t actually understand. Yes, movies and games have gotten more violent– but until it affects a close connection to us, we’ll seldom be shocked enough to react in an effective way to address the roots of the tragedy. Until tragedy takes someone away from our immediate circles, our response will be predictable: we will talk about it; we tuck our children in and give them a kiss on the forehead at night, if we have children; we will stay up and watch the scant details loop on the news; and eventually, a few weeks later, we will move on. Because most of us don’t understand violence anymore. It’s something most of us only interpret in terms of movies.

I’m not saying it’s right. I’m saying that for many, the nightmares of such events will loop for many more nights than others.

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Already, the news is magnifying every little detail of the event.

I’m not sure what I think about free speech sometimes.

My big issue is with the presentation of the issues whenever you get little quote bits from people involved. For example, apparently, the gunman was out on bail for being an accomplice in the alleged murder of his ex-wife, and was well known for writing offensive letters to the families of Australian military. It follows that one of the issues that comes up is “why was this man on the streets?”

That question riles up a lot of anger, mostly at “the system” that deals with corrections and criminal behaviour. It’s easy to say that this “system” let out a criminal who should have been in– finger pointing is easy. But how do we contribute to this system?

Australia is increasingly capitalist not only in economic policy, but in social welfare and punitive policies. We’re talking about a system that we encourage through the idea that criminality and social caste are permanent afflications that make it easier for people to be thrown into a hole than to deal with with rehabilitation, social integration, and psychological support. We’re dealing with a prison system leaning from the example of United States, with economic models of prison developments as lucrative businessess at the expense of taxpayers and for the benefit of investors, rather than for the correction of inmates.

This system just sweeps away the bits we don’t want to see.

And why not? It’s cheaper in many ways.

The bail system is what it is because we support a particular a economic and political system of caste.

I’m not saying that anyone is directly responsible for a gunman’s choices except a gunman. However, the quickness with which the media perpetuates a single degree of environmental factors (the “system” of this or that) is irresponsible– because it doesn’t dig deeper to the fact that the people who are pointing fingers at this or that system are largely what support and further entrench, enable, or encourage that system’s continued use.

The right wing media however knows way better than to bite the hands that feed. People tune in and get a sensation of “connectedness” in order to have sensationalism give sparks to their lives– not to be lectured.

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The aftermath will undoubtedly be debates about this or that, about fingerpointing at this or that system, and this or that belief. But who is going to give credit to the people pushing systems in the right direction, and who is going to step up to do the pushing for the future generations?

Who is going to admit that they’re at fault?

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