Unification News for May 1996


Tragedy in Tasmania

Deanna Cooper

The Port Arthur tragedy in Tasmania brought the evils normally associated with "somewhere else in the world" to the door step of an otherwise peaceful community. It left an entire nation in shock, and brought condolences from around the world.

On a pleasant autumn Sunday afternoon, while I was enjoying a peaceful stroll with friends in Hobart's beautiful Botanical Gardens, two hours away a young man open fired in a restaurant at the historical site of Port Arthur, a former penal colony. As people ran from the restaurant, he deliberately targeted them one by one and shot them dead.

He then holed himself up with three hostages in a bed and breakfast with a 360 degree vantage, and continued to shoot at police, and even at the helicopters that came to help the injured. The siege ended nearly 24 hours later with 34 dead, 18 wounded, and the gunman in the hospital with burns.

The day after the massacre I couldn't help but notice a large crowd of media people out side the Royal Hobart Hospital where the injured as well as the murderer were being cared for. The people I encountered looked shocked and glum as they struggled to make sense of the tragedy in a place where it should never have happened. As one journalist put it, "This, after all, is Tasmania. A quiet backwater whose very tranquillity is the thing we all boast about."

In pondering some similarities between this and the Dunblane massacre of those innocent children and teacher, I noted that both took place in quiet rural settings rather than in large well-known cities. In both cases, the killers were people who had mental health problems, lived alone, and exhibited strange behavior from time to time. Where were these people's friends and families as their difficulties developed? Was there an element of human responsibility toward these people left unfulfilled?

In the light of Rev. Moon's teaching to sacrifice oneself for the sake of others, I can not help but feel that we failed these two men, and others like them. Living for others is the foundation for peace within families, nations, and the world, yet up to this point we have collectively failed to embrace this way of life.

There is a lesson to be learned here, and though tragedies will continue to touch our lives, it is never too late to look for the beauty in our fellow beings and strive to adopt a more loving and giving attitude. So much has been written about it, so many words have been spoken. It is time, that we, as a human community stop philosophizing about peace and start focusing on caring for our neighbors - literally.

3A Dalkeith Court, Sandy Bay TASMANIA, Australia 7005


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