The philosopher Donna Haraway speaks of the imperative of “staying with the trouble”, of not shying away from reality but instead inhabiting the present in all its complexity, terror, hope and joy and recognising our kinship with those around us. Perhaps it is time we all learned to do that, time we learned to recognise our own hopes and fears in other people. Because that is what many of us glimpsed in the faces of the people on the beach in Mallacoota on New Year’s Eve. We saw ourselves, our shared future, the terror and pain of what is coming. And we could no longer look away.