When I woke to the news of another Malaysian Airlines tragedy I was shocked. In the days that followed I went through a kind of grieving process – disbelief, horror, helplessness, anger. I felt overwhelmed because at this moment in time we are collectively not only having to deal with this utter waste of life, but we are also trying to process the escalating violence in Gaza, the ongoing civil war in Syria, suicide bombings in Iraq and closer to home the injustice faced by a boatload of asylum seekers who were left floating out at sea for a month.
It is difficult not to feel overwhelmed. There is so much horror, so much hate, so much death and so much injustice.
The fact that 298 people were obliterated for no reason is incomprehensible and yet all the more poignant because one of those people could have been someone we know and love. For many people in Australia, they were. We have seen their faces in newspapers, on the TV and social media. We are reading their stories and listening to their shattered family and friends speak with quivering voices about them. The children’s faces touch me deeply, many of them the same age as my own kids. I can’t imagine putting my children on a plane with my father-in-law, waving them goodbye and then never seeing them again - their smiling faces gone and with them all your hopes and dreams for the future. It is utterly tragic.
The escalating violence in Gaza is also needlessly wiping out whole families of children. And what of the 157 people, almost 40 children amongst them, left languishing at sea, locked in the bowels of an Australian navy ship, without any idea when they might have a chance of a better life and where that life might be? Or the Australian teenager who just willingly blew up five people and himself in Iraq? It is just impossible not to feel overwhelmed.
The world has always been a violent place. History tells us that. And yet when I look at my children, my nieces and nephews and the children of my friends, I want the world to change. I don’t want people to have to suffer as so many are suffering today.
The lessons we teach our children are simple enough – be kind to one another, share, look after the planet, welcome everyone, treat others as you would like to be treated, take deep breaths when angry, don’t hit or say mean things to others, talk about what’s worrying you, respect people no matter what they believe. I imagine these lessons are taught to most children regardless of where they are. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if these simple lessons were displayed more often by our leaders? I know it’s a naive and idealistic idea and the world is a complex place with age-old conflicts, but sometimes the simplest truths are the only ones needed.
So what can we do to combat this overwhelming feeling? We must keep teaching these uncomplicated lessons to our children and hope that one day, more of them hold true to those lessons in adult life. We should pray for and reach out to all those people who are losing loved ones senselessly every day, we should lobby and agitate against the injustices facing the vulnerable by writing to our parliamentarians and we should invest abundant time and energy into loving and raising the best children we can, as they are the only hope we have for a more peaceful and just future.