Today was the day I gave my first public lecture in Jakarta, again in the Ministry of Education Building. It was a capacity crowd and we had a meaningful time together.

There are no pictures today, however. During the time I was giving the lecture, a massive car bomb went off in front of the Australian Embassy not far from where we were holding our lecture. As of the time I am writing this, nine people are known to have died and over a hundred and fifty people have been injured.

I need to take this occasion to express my sadness at this event and to say this event is not reflective of the Indonesian people nor is it reflective of the Muslim community. Islam, like Christianity and Judaism, is a religion of tolerance and forgiveness. Unfortunately, as is also true of some Christians and some Jews, there are a fanatic few who act out in ways abhorrent to all right-thinking people, whatever their religious, national or ethnic background.

As well as expressing great sadness at the events of today in Jakarta, I also think it is important to express my concern for the men who have committed this act. What is so sorrowful to me is that, misguided as it is, these men will have genuinely felt they were doing the right thing in setting off that bomb, that acting out of anger and revenge was what God would want them to do.

Anger is a feeling we get when we feel frustrated and powerless, when we feel our world is out of control, when no one listens to us. Handling inappropriate and distressing feelings has been a major topic during many of my discussions here in Jakarta. I have often been asked about special needs children, about contending with temper tantrums and revengeful outbursts. We have discussed how it is often difficult for special children to control their rage, how their special needs make them inarticulate and powerless to communicate what they need.

My experience with special needs children is that it is never helpful to meet a temper tantrum with anger of my own. It is never helpful to hit the child, to scream at him, to "give him a taste of his own medicine." My experience is that to change a child's behaviour permanently, we must start where the child is. We must accept him as he is, however bad that may be, and work from there, and that the first step in this is listening. Even if what he is doing is totally unacceptable, the first step to helping him change is to acknowledge him as a fellow human being worthy of being listened to, to say, 'Yes, you are angry.' to accept him where he is, wherever that might be, because for that moment he can't be anywhere else. And then we have a chance to work for change, to make a difference.

My feelings regarding the bombing in Jakarta today is that we are in very much the same realm here. It is time to stop responding to anger with anger. It's time to listen. Even if what is being said is not acceptable in the greater context of things. Anger comes from frustration, from voicelessness, from being talked to but never listened to. We don't want this kind of world we have now. None of us does. But if we want a different one, we need accept this is where we are now. And then we need to listen. We need to acknowledge everyone involved as fellow human beings and listen. Genuinely. And then we can work from there, because the other way - responding to anger with escalating anger - just isn't ever going to get us to a better place.


As for me, I am safe and well. And as for am I staying here now? Am I carrying on? Yes, of course. I wouldn’t dream of doing otherwise. I am among friends.