Australian history

Starry, Sari night

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Contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence reflects on the Bali Bombings, which took the lives of 202 people, 10 years ago today.

[Bali 12 October 2012: This image was created using a photograph taken prior to the fall of Singapore in February 1942, another time of terror when people of many nationalities and faiths lost their lives. I owe my existence to the fact that my father survived his three and half years’ captivity in Changi. The image is a response to today’s moving ceremony commemorating the Bali Bombing 2002, and was suggested by Tess Lawrence. There are 202 stars – including those of the Australian flag – some overlapping, symbolising the chaotic, random nature of the atrocity which again involved many nationalities and faiths. More than half the victims were Australians and Indonesians. None were combatants. Only in the sense that when ideology runs amok we are all combatants. ~ Graham Jackson.]

It is too easy to destroy rather than construct; to raze rather than rebuild.

In the absence of good, evil festers. It lurks, human malware programmed to corrupt and corrode, hauling darkness like a tarpaulin across our sun and the light.

It is easier to force compliance than to woo through persuasion and example.

It is easier for us to feign respect to the bully incapable of earning it.

It is easier for some to hate than to love the 'other'.

It is easier to repeat the lie than to utter the truth.

It is easier to capitulate to power than to speak up to it.

It is easier to stroll with the rich than to shuffle with the poor.

And yet, when great tragedy and trauma beset us, it is somehow easier for us to embrace one another as a member of the same human family without distinction of race, religion, political biases or the size of one's purse.

Setting aside those who scavenge on misery and who loot hope from us, let us today salute the common humanity that unites us.

That which makes the families and friends of victims of the Bali bombings, both the dead and the wounded, meet the long ten year day since.

That which makes heroes out of ordinary people, since that is what real heroes are, fashioned out of earthly fabric.

That which makes a single act of kindness a sacred covenant; kissing the bloodied brow of a dying stranger, cradling a human being as the life and blood drains out of the burned and dismembered; picking up remnants of flesh from the dirt.

And all the miracle of mending and healing and scars forever unhealed as a result of all that took place on that Starry, Sari Night that taught us that goodness lives on in the heart and in our collective memory; such is our history and such is our emotional ringbarking.

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