AUSTRALIANS FOR PEACE

AUSTRALIANS FOR PEACE

summary of a speech delivered by Garth Read at the Australians for Peace Vigil

Roma Street Gardens, Brisbane.

Saturday 20th December 2014

 

INTRODUCTION

In this last month of the year 2014, some highly dramatic images of how humans relate to and treat other people have been beamed across the world.  Millions of people in every land on earth have seen these images.

Tonight I highlight four of these images.

Two (2) arouse in us deep feelings of sorrow, compassion, fear, disgust and anger.

The other two (2) arouse deep feelings of admiration, human solidarity and hope for the future.

It is a shared sense of compassion for the victims of these events, coupled with a heightened commitment to living together in peace and harmony that has brought us together in this place at this time.

 

IMAGE 1:

A deeply damaged, disturbed, deluded, angry and criminally violent individual terrorises and murders innocent people in a Sydney inner city café.

  • People die.
  • Many are seriously hurt – physically and psychologically.
  • A community is shocked, saddened and bewildered.
  • The gunman displays a flag identifying himself with a particular religion – Islam.
  • Many Muslims feel that their religion has been defiled and that they are being held collectively responsible for this man’s criminal and violent actions.

IMAGE 2:

Seven (7) members of the extreme and violent Taliban attack and blow up a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, killing 140 children and their teacher.

  • People, mainly children, die.
  • Many are seriously hurt – physically and psychologically.
  • A community is shocked, saddened and bewildered.
  • The attackers identify themselves with a particular religion – Islam.
  • Many Muslims feel that their religion has been defiled and that they are being held collectively responsible for these violent actions.

 

IMAGE 3:

On December 10, a young Muslim woman (Malala) from the Swat Valley, Pakistan who, some years ago, was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban, shares the Nobel Peace prize.

  • She titles her acceptance speech: 'I AM MANY'.
  • She says “The award is not just for me.  It is for those forgotten children who want education.  It is for those frightened children who want peace.  It is for those voiceless children who want change”.

 

IMAGE 4 :

During the Sydney siege, a young woman (Rachael Jacobs) riding in a suburban train in Brisbane notices a woman sitting near her nervously removing a head scarf.  Is it a hijab?  Is she Muslim?  Is she afraid to travel on this public transport?

  • She says nothing.  She taps out a very simple message on her digital devise.
  • “I’ll ride with you.”
  • At the station she runs after her and says “Put it back on.  I’ll walk with you.”
  • The message goes global and sparks a movement of solidarity, acceptance and care for others.

 

CONCLUSION

 

Amidst all the noise, the chaos, the terror, the suffering and death, two still, small voices can be heard:

“I AM MANY”         “I WILL RIDE WITH YOU”

My simple message tonight is:

Let those still, small voices grow louder.

  • “I am one.  You are one.  We are all members of the one human family.”
  • “I will walk with you.  I will ride with you.  I will share life with you on this tiny planet earth.”

 

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Tags: Sydney Sige, Pakistan, Interfaith, Garth Read, Solidarity

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