A friend’s Facebook post alerted me to the London terror attacks less than 20 minutes after they were reported. But after working next to a tube (metro) station where a suspicious package was detonated in a controlled explosion and rescheduling a meeting when fear of a bomb in an unattended vehicle shut down another station some months later, I suspected an attack would eventually come to my home city. Of course the violence and those it affected sadden me, but I am primarily thankful to feel quite sure of my safety. Conversely, I am also extraordinarily sorry for those who live in war-torn countries and can no longer comprehend what security feels like.
Admittedly, after Facebook, my next source of news about the London terror attacks was Twitter. It seems everyone digitally congregated to hear news from those “on the ground” and to quickly warn their friends to stay away from the affected areas. Only the tiniest news blurbs from established papers were published, but soon the Twittersphere was saturated with thousands of fragmented thoughts regarding the events. While it may seem pointless to throw out a 140 character Tweet, hundreds of people from around the world participated. Their sentiments echoed concern and sympathy. Today’s Twitter hashtags, not even 24 hours after the attacks, represent resilience: #LondonIsOpen and #WeAreNotAfraid.
Check-Ins and Visibility
Facebook created a unique check-in system for users to mark themselves as “safe” from the London terror attacks. The Safety Check feature, launched in 2014 for those in areas affected by natural disasters, allows users to “connect with friends and loved ones during a crisis.” Even before the feature was activated, I was honestly touched by friends that messaged me. Although it is highly unlikely that I was one of 30 or so directly affected in a city of approximately 8.5 million, the experiences of the victims are still important. The fact that the lives of three people crashed to a halt is significant, and this has been reflected in the large amount of news coverage and support that London has received. Visibility of the London terror attacks is enormous because thankfully attacks are rare. (This is because the police who are highly successful at thwarting attempts.) So again, I am grateful, yet I also feel sorry for people who live in societies that deal with more frequent terrorist attacks and receive much less support and sympathy.
The Effect of the London Terror Attacks
Given the night to reflect, most Londoners resolutely claim that this attack will not affect them – or at least those that talk to websites like The Daily Mash. They only quote two people and claim “Londoners told terror wannabes that they will never even scrape the top five of things that plague their tired, jumbled minds on a daily basis.” And a fake tube station sign, created on the Internet, has reflected the sentiment of many locals. “All tourists are politely reminded that THIS IS LONDON and whatever you do to us, we will drink tea and jolly well carry on. Thank you.” The message has proudly been shared hundreds of times. So it seems today London stands proud in a manner true to her culture.
The Cumulative Effect of Terror Attacks
Sadly, terrorist attacks have become more frequent in recent years. I read the moving account and tribute of a French woman, Isobel Bowdery, who escaped from the Paris attack. (Excerpt left unedited, so use your imagination to fill in [sic] as needed.)
“As i lay down in the blood of strangers and waiting for my bullet to end my mere 22 years, I envisioned every face that I have ever loved and whispered I love you. over and over again. reflecting on the highlights of my life. Wishing that those i love knew just how much, wishing that they knew that no matter what happened to me, to keep belieivng in the good in people. to not let those men win. Last night, the lives of many were forever changed and it is up to us to be better people. to live lives that the innocent victims of this tragedy dreamt about but sadly will now never be able to fulfil.”
And I even remembered her advice during a nightmare that surfaced a evenings later, where I was lying facedown on the floor with other victims, embracing love in those infinite moments. So today, let us cherish love and find more compassion. Let us value our freedoms and recognize when our governments steal those same freedoms from people in faraway lands in drone strikes with far too many innocent casualties. Let us demonstrate regard for all peaceful human life.
Disclaimer: This post does not condone violent extremist actions. It does, however, offer sympathy and empathy towards people who are needlessly suffering elsewhere.