This is a sample of The Echidna newsletter sent out each weekday morning. To sign up for FREE, go to theechidna.com.au
Why aren't you filled with hate, Danny?
He killed three of your children and one of their cousins. They were just kids dreaming of ice cream on a sweltering summer evening when he came out of nowhere, crazed on booze and drugs, his powerful ute a two-tonne, out-of-control missile.
How do you keep doing it, Danny? Why aren't you consumed with murderous rage?
He'd been tailgating cars. Flipping his middle finger at other drivers. Swerving maniacally, bare-chested and laughing, from one lane to another. Before his car mounted that footpath, before he ploughed into those kids without even touching the brakes, before he destroyed so many lives, he was speeding at more than 130km/h.
In a 50km/h zone.
You're a man of deep faith, Danny. A Maronite Catholic. You know there are places in the Bible that say it's alright to take an eye for an eye. A wound for a wound. A life for a life. Most of us would understand if vengeance burned inside you. We might have looked the other way had you decided to get even.
But you're a better person than most of us, Danny Abdallah. That's for sure. You're unlike so many in today's world. You understand and appreciate what Martin Luther King meant when he said that old law of an eye for eye leaves everybody blind.
The rest of us struggle with that, Danny. Mightily. We think about exacting revenge for the smallest of personal slights. We're so sodden with pride, so filled with our own self-importance, we nurse and nourish our petty grudges throughout our lives.
Yet this week you revealed that you'd recently visited that killer of your children, Samuel Davidson, in prison. That you shook his hand. That you told him you forgive him.
It's almost four years since Davidson took the lives of your 13-year-old son Antony, your daughters Angelina, 12, and Sienna, 8, along with their 11-year-old cousin Veronique Sakr. It had been a hot February day in 2020. Around 7.30pm you decided to empower the kids, to bestow a little responsibility on them, by letting them stroll down the street on their own to buy ice cream.
Davidson, then a 31-year-old truck driver, had been snorting cocaine and methamphetamine and drinking all day with friends when his Mitsubishi Triton smashed into those kids in Oatland in Sydney's northwest.
It was a week after the first confirmed case in Australia of COVID-19. If we feared our world was about to change, we couldn't begin to imagine what happened to yours in the carnage of that night. The news footage was unimaginable, the scale of what had been taken from you and your wife so incomprehensible, many of us had to look away.
You could have locked your doors. Kept the curtains drawn. Let the grief and bitterness fester and gnaw at your insides until it destroyed you and what remained of your family. But you're not like most of us, Danny.
"I was at a crossroads in my life," you admitted. "The hardest question as a parent is you can lose your whole family with bitterness and seek revenge, or you can keep half of your family and find forgiveness."
So you visited Davidson in prison where he is serving a maximum sentence of 20 years. How could you walk in there and not want to throttle him, to watch whatever light remained in his eyes slowly fade to nothing?
"I shook his hand and he just fell to his knees, put his head on the floor and said 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry I took your kids.'
And Danny, that wasn't the first time you provided absolution to Davidson, either. A week into his sentence you started receiving messages from inside the prison. Its inmates were no different to the rest of us. "A guy who was angry with what had happened said 'Mate, he's gone'."
You defused the situation. "I said 'leave him alone. He's forgiven'," you told the Christian website Eternity. How did that man plotting to hurt Davidson respond? He sent you a message with emoji tears and wrote: "You've broken me."
So just keep doing what you do, Danny.
In a world burning with hate, where so many lives are cruelled daily by retribution, keep promoting your i4give Day. Keep campaigning, along with your wife, Leila, who is pregnant again, for a National Day of Forgiveness every February 1.
Continue reminding us that we can be better people, Danny, before that desire for vengeance blinds us all.
HAVE YOUR SAY: Could you manage to forgive like Danny Abdallah? Have you ever sought revenge after being wronged? Should federal parliament support Danny and Leila Abdallah's push for a National Day of Forgiveness? Email us: email@example.com
SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoy The Echidna, forward it to a friend so they can sign up, too.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
- Laws imposing strict conditions such as ankle-tracking devices and curfews on criminals being released from indefinite immigration detention have passed the House of Representatives.
- The official jobless rate nudged higher again to 3.7 per cent last month, up from 3.6 per cent. The increase in the unemployment rate was widely expected, but the 55,000 jobs created was stronger than anticipated, and well above the modest 8000 increase in September.
- Australia has welcomed talks between the Chinese and US presidents to ensure "guardrails" are in place to avoid conflict in the region. Anthony Albanese landed in San Francisco on Thursday for the APEC leaders' summit, where a meeting between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping took centre stage.
THEY SAID IT: "While seeking revenge, dig two graves. One for yourself." - Douglas Horton
YOU SAID IT: Just because you avoid Kris Kringle and the office Christmas party doesn't mean you're the Grinch.
David writes: "Many moons ago, I was the last one to arrive at the Christmas party and found myself seated next to the accountant. You know them, bland and boring. "What do you do for fun"? He asks. Odd ice breaker, but OK. I replied "Read, drink wine, download porn from the internet", just saying something to get a rise. Forty-eight hours later, my wife was interrogating me about my internet porn habits. Unknown to me at the time, the accountant's wife was my wife's boss! Never did like Christmas parties after that."
"My family and I are doing a no presents Christmas this year," writes Alison. "There is so much stress involved in gift giving, especially now with cost of living crisis. Our family consists of adults and no children so it is a lot easier to have a giftless Christmas. I wish we had started years ago."
Trevor writes: "I, too, hated those Christmas parties in the office, especially when I became part of the managerial class. No further comment on that! Now I love Christmas: at 86 the whole family comes to gather around my beloved wife and I (58 years together this year). No pressure to be a benevolent dictator, no having to listen to office tales of misery and intrigue. Just us, our kids, our sons-in-law and our grandkids. Eighth generation Aussie grandkids, Dutch mother, Estonian wife and mother, French and Italian sisters-in-law. Thank goodness we all speak English. And Dutch. And Estonian. And French. And Italian. And Arabic. And Chinese. And German. And don't ask about all those. Just count them as blessings. A Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to all Echidnas and Puggles."
"I love Christmas, every part of it," writes Lee. "With five adult sons we do not celebrate on Christmas Day but do it two weeks before. That way I am assured to have all the boys, their wives and the grandchildren in our house at the same time (party of 12). It also allows them to go to their in-laws on Christmas Day without hesitation. This year, Christmas spending is down because inflation is up and our wages are not. But we will have each other, lots of fun, laughter and love."
Bill writes" "The Grinch may be me or, at least, that is what the Minister for War and Finance tells me. I want for nothing so the best gift by far is the company, cuddles and smiles of my wife, daughters, granddaughters and great granddaughters and, best of all, the peace that reigns when they go home."
"Two statements from Thursday's offering rang true," writes Bob. "'Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store' and 'The best gift of all will be time. And none of that will be wasted.' This year we are reducing our gifting expenses and increasing the time spent with friends and family members. There is simply much more and better value in that."