1 June 2019

Viewpoint – Lack of Respect

MUMBAI INDIA - FEBRUARY 21: The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel on Febuary 21 2014 in Mumbai India
Picture of David Ahern

David Ahern

Current editor of The Majellan, David has spent more than 40 years as an editor/journalist

In my last column I wrote about the general lack of respect for others. People who have a win at all costs mentality like the Australian cricketers caught up in the ball tampering affair in South Africa. This lack of respect, unfortunately and shamefully, also extends to an intolerance for those of a different colour and creed.

In March, an appalling event took place in New Zealand when a lone gunman opened fire at two Christchurch mosques killing 50 people and wounding countless others.

Outraged, people around the world condemned this atrocity against innocents. Muslim worshipers were at Friday prayers; they were at their most vulnerable; their deaths were totally senseless. In the aftermath of the tragedy New Zealanders were united – those from many faiths and those without a particular faith – who showed that love is stronger than hate.  

It is always difficult to imagine why these types of events occur and what possess someone to go down this path of darkness. Trying to make sense of such barbarity we ask God why? But people who commit these crimes do not think the way we do and do not behave the way people in a civilised society behave. They have a twisted mindset that defies logic and common sense.

Barely two weeks after the Christchurch massacre I saw a movie titled Hotel Mumbai based on the terrorist attack on the Indian city in 2008 in which more than 150 people were killed. I had long wanted to see the movie but the timing of its release so soon after Christchurch was unfortunate.

The movie was based on the attack at the prestigious Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai. The film was well constructed, well-acted and was quite confronting. While it didn’t delve too deeply into the minds of the fanatics, the movie, though dark and brutal, had a shining light. The conduct and actions of the hotel staff.

While many of the characters were fictional, the head chef depicted in the movie was based on the real-life chef who saved many lives and survived the ordeal. Many other staff also opted to stay and help guests rather than evacuate. Their care and compassion showed humanity at its best.

In times of adversity, people have the capacity to display enormous courage and love for others, a selfless act for people they don’t know. Many of those at the Taj stood their ground and paid the ultimate price. They were not driven by a desire to survive. They were driven by a desire to put the safety of their guests and strangers first, even though the outcome looked dire.

To give your life for another is a great sacrifice. People go about their daily lives never thinking they will be caught up in such a despicable act. However, as we have witnessed in places like Melbourne, Sydney, London, Manchester, Paris, Kabul, Mosul, Belgium, and now Christchurch, to name a few of the cities affected by terrorism, the ugly side of life can materialise without warning.

More than two millennia ago someone else gave his life for others. He also was also the victim of a cruel and despicable act but his actions were a beacon: A light for humanity that continues to shine today. As we saw in Mumbai in 2008 and Christchurch earlier this year, despite the hate, love can be the stronger force.

Image: The movie Hotel Mumbai was based on the terrorist attack on the Indian city in 2008 in which more than 150 people were killed.

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