I am not sure how to start a post about the bombings in London. For a while I couldn’t decide even if I should talk about them, but then it was brought home to me that this blog is supposed to be about what has affected me and mine, and it would be churlish to ignore such an incident, even if it doesn’t fit in with the normal tone of the blog.
I wasn’t in London, but I do have family, and people I care about, in London. I wasn’t in New York on September the 11th, but I had family and people I care about there, and we lost friends. So when I received a call from my brother saying that he and Susan were safe, it all felt eerily familiar. There is one thing, and one thing only, that you can do in situations like this, and that is check that everyone and anyone that you know is safe. Which is what I did. Assorted friends, their families, relatives, flatmates, and the like, are all safe.
And now I have a request for all of you out there who read this blog, and it is this: let me know you are safe. Either by phone, text, email, comment, or skywriting, I don’t care. I don’t care that you might have been in a different hemisphere when 4 bombs went off in London on the 7th of July. I want to know y’all are safe. Even stealth-readers of the blog who presence I can only guess at, let me know you’re safe. Please, just touch base so I can rest easy.
There really is no way I can do justice to the total sense of futility and helplessness you feel when events such as these occur. You do what you can to get on with your day to day life, fighting back the impulse to hide under your bed and shut the world away. You get in touch with those you love and care about. You trade stories of where you were when you heard, what you were doing, and what the motives could possibly be. Some people chose to respond by declaring war on terrorists, extremists, and the totally innocent who just happen to share a belief in a given ideology. You turn to whatever makes you feel better able to cope. In my case, I turn to writing in an attempt to make sense of it, and to show that I’ve not been beaten into submission.
It is events such as these, and how we react to them, that tell us who we are as people. For me, it has confirmed my belief that there is no circumstance that justifies the taking of a human life. None what so ever. Lock murderers up by all means, throw away the key, force them to watch over and over again the home movies of the birthdays/weddings/graduations/and so on of every single person whose deaths they are responsible for, but don’t kill them. Death is what many terrorists crave. To be martyrs to a cause. It is worth remembering that for many of the people who take this course of action, they feel it is the only one open to them. The only way to beat them is to keep on with our normal lives, to refuse to give in, to keep accepting and welcoming the plurality of nations, people, and ideas that go into making up the world. That’s not a religious belief, its an ethical and moral one. I am aware that it is a highly personal belief, and isn’t one shared by most people, but there it is. We hold these truths to be self evident, a group of people once stood up and said, and as far as I am concerned “thou shall not kill” is written down in pretty much every important text you care to mention.
I shall finish this post by sending my thoughts to everyone in the world who was, or ever has been, a victim of violence. It is easy to be outraged by the attacks on London today, but people deal with this and worse, happening every single day of their lives. People, for example, in Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, the Congo, Sri Lanka, and beyond. There is no easy solution, I wish there was, but I do not believe the way to stop terrorism is to wage war on any nation too weak to defend itself, or that adheres to a belief system different to our own. Surely it has been proven time over time that violence only begets more violence. Isn’t now when we say “enough, let us sit around a table and talk”? At what point do we decide that the body count is just too high? That the current course of action is demonstrably failing, and that it is time we tried something different?
Agree with me, don’t agree with me, that is what I hold to be self evident, and what I work toward every day of my life.