In a normal hold-up, thieves will use force to take money and or goods; whilst that is hardly a way to conduct yourself, there is still a definable and obvious reason for the action. With an act of aggression or a siege like this, I'm afraid that I just don't make any connection between the act and what the intended outcome is; if indeed there is one.
The message that you're trying to convey, whatever it possibly may be, will instantly be lost in the face of a million irate people, whose day you've just disrupted. If you disrupt people as they go about their business under most circumstances, they get annoyed; if you decide to take people hostage and cause half the CBD to go into lockdown then instead of just creating an annoyance, you've probably created enemies out of the general public - you've certainly created enemies out of the scared individuals you've taken hostage.
Again, I just don't understand what exactly is achieved here.
The phrase being bandied about on talkback radio this afternoon as though it was some kernel of wisdom was "we can't let the terrorists win". The problem with that phrase is that it assumes that there's something which can actually be won. What? What is the thing that the terrorists win? It doesn't even need to be a tangible thing, I just want to know what possible thing is the intended outcome.
Where are the terrorists anyway? This is a siege in a cafe. No bullets have been fired, no property has been destroyed that we know of and no explosive devices have been discharged. Despite what the graphics on Channels 7, 9 and 10 suggest, this fails every legal definition of terrorism.
If you were trying to win the fame and ovation of the people forever, then wouldn't it make more sense to do something nice for people? I'm sure that if I had a very big message that I wanted to put out to a lot of people, I'd do so by being kind to them - it is far easier to catch flies with a honey pot. Give everyone a cool drink on their way home. Maybe give everyone a free train trip home.
Even the flag which the mad men used was unhelpful. Granted that a black flag with Arabic writing on, is used by IS but the problem is that because we happen to live in a mostly English speaking nation, most of the population can't even read that sign. If you are trying to convey some message, then what's the point if most people can't understand it?
The flag appears to be a variation on the Shahada which says something similar to "There is no god but the God, Muhammad is the messenger of the God". This message appears on flag of Saudi Arabia and was used for a while on flag of the Taliban in Afghanistan. The problem with this is that it is a vague sort of message used by jihadists as well as the vast majority of perfectly peaceful Muslims alike.
Various Imams and Islamic leaders have come out to condemn this action and quite rightly so but they shouldn't need to. The acts of one or two mad men are not reflective of the community as a whole.
If the point was to deliberately try and disrupt peoples' day, then that for the most part, failed spectacularly. Quite a number of places shutdown and for those people, you've just awarded them an early mark. When I got on the bus at 05:05pm, the trip across the bridge was quick and the trains weren't crowded at all because everyone had gone home.
In the case of one of the the most "first world problems" in the world, the only two things that I suffered was a rescheduling of a meeting and I was unable to send a text message to Mrs Rollo because the phone system had collapsed under the weight of more than sixty million SMSs being sent.
Something we did see were the hashtags on Twitter of #sydneysiege, #illridewithyou and most encouraging #PrayForSydney. What most of haven't heard though are the conversations that have been had by the people inside and various media outlets like radio and television stations.
Quite rightly the media outlets themselves are keeping quiet about what's been said to them by the gunman even though they probably don't need to but more importantly, they haven't disclosed the locations of police units.
So what was actually achieved today in all honesty? The ire of the people of Sydney? Early marks for lots of office workers? A spot on the six o'clock news? The infamy and condemnation of the world?
I think that the best thing that can come out of this is that eventually that the hostage takers get bored and let everyone go home. I find it comforting that in various places around Sydney, Islamic leaders, Christian leaders and even Jewish leaders have all been calling for prayer.
That would truly be the most radical reaction of all, wouldn't it? Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you?