The ongoing hostage-taking in an Australian cafe is terrifying. And out of fear is borne ignorance. A few bad apples do not make the bunch, and it goes without saying that a terrorist is not a spokesperson for an entire faith.
Nonetheless, the siege sparked a torrent of anti-Muslim sentiment on social media. Fortunately, all it took was four little words of solidarity—"I'll ride with you"—to launch a movement. It started with a simple offer from user Sir Tessa to accompany Muslims dressed in religious clothing who felt frightened on public transit.
Since that tweet, the #Illridewithyou hashtag has gained momentum, with more than 112,000 mentions from all parts of the globe, and from all walks of life. Australians are rallying together as a nation to promise support and protection to Muslims citizens who may feel threatened.
As one user pointed out: "#illridewithyou because *every* race, belief and culture has some foolish people, but more who are honest, smart and caring."
So far the hashtag appears to be more than lip service. Some users gave detailed information about their travel routes. It has also prompted two Muslim Australian men to pray on site for the hostages and to speak out against terrorism in the name of Islam:
"He's contradicting Islam... He's not from our community for him to do this," said 39-year-old Sam Tiger.
One of the men even volunteered to enter the cafe in place of police.
"We're Australian too, we don't want this to happen," said 28-year-old Abdul El-Lawn. "No one accepts this. It could have been my mother having coffee, it could have been my sister."
It's believed that 10 people are still being held at the hands of a single gunman. The black extremist flag is not Islam's flag.
"I'll ride with you" is another example of a hashtag exerting a powerful and positive message in the face of dissent. Social media turned social mastery. Kudos to Aussies for not letting fear get in the way of reason
Two years ago, a monkey in a shearling coat wandering in an IKEA parking lot caught the public's heart. Well, he's back in the spotlight, this time appealing for a new home. Little Darwin is no longer diapered and he's no longer little.
After being taken into custody and away from his human "mother," the full grown Japanese macaque has come into his own at the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Sunderland, Ontario. Finally Darwin has found a home, with two fellow macaques and other primates. He's discovering how to be a monkey among monkeys.
Trouble is, the 16-hectare volunteer-run sanctuary is at capacity and needs more space to accommodate exotics like Darwin. The sanctuary is hoping to move come Spring 2015 into the 25-hectare Northwood Buffalo and Exotic Animal Ranch near Port Perry, Ont., whose owner is due to retire.
Sure, he was cute as a button in his little coat, but people "[need] to understand that he’s going to live at least another 40 years if not more … there’s a whole life behind that,” said sanctuary volunteer and board member, Rachelle Hansen.
The illegal sale of exotics needs to end. But until people stop treating monkeys as pets, macaques like Darwin need to be re-homed, with their own species. At 45 pounds, Darwin is double the weight he was at the time he made headlines.
“When the media covered him, he was very sweet in his little coat, but they grow to full-grown size,” said Hansen. “Japanese macaques are the most volatile, meaning they’re very aggressive, they’ll fight with each other. This is who they need to be. You can’t diaper him.”
Dogs are pets. Cats are pets. It's bad enough when you see them riding in strollers and baby carriers. They may be domesticated animals, but they are still animals. Monkeys are cute, but they are not pets. Nor are they furry babies in need of a cuddle. If that's what you want, for mercy's sake buy a plush monkey - not a real one.
Can Darwin's winning charm inspire the public to contribute to the sanctuary's Indiegogo campaign, which has so far raised just over $9,000 of its $500,000 goal? To find out more about Darwin or to donate...
He did it 30 years ago. Can he do it again? One thing is for sure: Sir Bob Geldof won't rest until Africa is healed. The founder of Band Aid has rounded up a new crew of Britain's musical elite for a reincarnation of "Do They Know it's Christmas" and accompanying charity challenge.
Though the melody has stayed the same, the lyrics have changed to reflect a new modus operandi: raise funds and awareness to fight the Ebola Virus ravaging West Africa.'
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At 63, the former front man of The Boomtown Rats is rallying together his many celebrity connections to raise money, Ice Bucket-style. Sir Bob has thrown down the gauntlet to famous actor buddies, Damien Lewis, Dominic West, and Richard E. Grant. They have 24 hours to film themselves singing Bono's line (new version), "Tonight I'm reaching out and touching you" or fork over a £100 'fine.' The rest of us are urged to do the same.
Geldof can only pray that the new Band Aid single and the accompanying singing challenge will rouse the masses the way they did 30 years ago. And if anyone can do that, it's Sir Bob.
"It's harrowing, it's not meant for an entertainment show, but we thought you ought to see it," said Geldof of opening footage showing an Ebola victim being "carried out of a house by people in masks and protective suits."
Original member of the record-breaking charity single - Bono - is there, along with some new blood: Coldplay's Chris Martin, One Direction, Seal, and Bastille, et al.
"No peace and joy this Christmas in West Africa - the only hope they'll have is being alive," go the new lyrics. "Where to comfort is to fear, where to touch is to be scared ... How can they know it's Christmas time at all."
Image Source: Flickr