Parenting, What's On Our Mind

What Steven Sotloff’s tragic and inhumane beheading means to me

Melissa Imbesi by Melissa Imbesi
September 4th, 2014

I don’t remember the last time the news was on in our home.

Apart from the fact that ABC for Kids rules the roost around here, there isn’t a chance in hell that I’ll let my kids watch the news. At four and six years old, I reckon they deserve a few more years of protection from the horrors of the world.

And the world has become a horrifying place.

I know, I know, that last sentence was so…….negative. Awful. Glass half-full. But to be honest, at this point in time, I feel like if the world were a glass, it would only be a quarter full. Max.


I rarely have the radio on in the car anymore and when I do, I avoid the news bulletins. I’m not ready to be confronted by inquistive little minds asking me what murder means. What is rape?  War? The definition of ‘beheading’.

I flinched when I read that a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, had been brutally executed by ISIS militants in Syria yesterday.

Earlier this year, my good friends Reuben and Elio travelled to Syria to film a documentary about the conditions of the Syrian refugees.

Reuben and I edited this documentary together and in the process I saw things that will remain in my heart and mind for the rest of my life. Innocent people who lost everything. Children who have seen, heard and experienced things that no person should ever have to.

These atrocities are happening far, far away, but the flow-on effect around the world is enormous.

When extremist groups commit acts of horror in the name of religion, they are casting an ugly and very, very dark shadow over everyone who follows the religion of the same name.

I say this because my Muslim friends are some of the most beautiful people I have ever known.  It makes me sad to think that because of the abhorrent acts of certain groups, the entire religion is, for want of a better word, being crucified.

The other day I was walking behind a young couple at a shopping centre – the woman was wearing a hijab (head scarf) and the man had a very full beard. Although they were walking in front of me engaged in their own chit-chat, the amount of stink-eye they copped was incredible.

And then I heard it. Two twenty-something guys actually muttered “f***in’ terrorists” under their breath as they walked past.

This is what I mean by flow-on…….there are still people who believe the words ‘Muslim’ and ‘terrorist’ go hand-in-hand. The loathing is often so obvious that it’s palpable.


Steven in happier times

Now, I was raised Catholic. I would be shattered if I knew that anyone thought that I condone the child sexual abuse that occurred at the hands of Catholic priests. The allegations and subsequent convictions are sickening, widespread and ongoing, but we are smart enough to see that these are actions of bad people and not indicative of all Catholics.

People who commit acts of abuse, war and terrorism in the name of race or religion (or for any reason, really) are just that – bad people. In the same way we wouldn’t see every Catholic priest as condoning paedophilia, or every person of German descent as condoning the Holocaust, how can some people still believe that all Muslims condone acts of terrorism?

I feel so sad about what happened to Steven Sotloff. And to James Foley. I feel so sad for their families and for the families that are living every day in war zones around the world. War zones created by evil, inhumane, bad people.

No one should have to live under those conditions, except for the baddies themselves.

On days like this, I wish there really was a Superman……..