We’ve seen it time and time again over the past couple of days. We must carry on as normal, hold our heads high and show the terrorists that we cannot be scared, otherwise the terrorists win.
But haven’t they won already? If this sort of thing can happen, unchecked, at any given moment and in any given situation, and we are basically trying to get on with things but not ever knowing when something might happen, is that not living in fear, however we try to kid ourselves?
My actions have been impacted by the attacks across Europe over the past couple of years. The first time I realised the impact was when I was travelling across London via tube last year. I was on my way up to the surface, one of those double deep stations, and I started to feel hot, and weak at the knees, my heart started to race and I honestly felt like I was about to faint. I had to talk myself out of the station, out loud, so everyone could hear me. ‘You’re ok, you’re going to be ok, we’re nearly at the top, soon be outside, just breath, and concentrate on your breath…’
But the anxiety hasn’t stopped there. I feel nervous in crowded areas and close to landmarks, and I’m thankful my friends all live close to the river in London so we can just get on a boat and get the hell out. This also coupled with the nightmares about keeping Freddie safe and yes, I’m aware that media has a lot to do with this, but that doesn’t negate the inherent fear. I rarely watch the news these days, and I tend to unfollow people who just regurgitate horrible news on social media because I’m aware it feeds my anxiety, but the fact remains that anxiety is real and increasing, and has picked up speed the closer to home the attacks get. Fun times.
Until recently, I felt it was my duty to put a brave face on and keep my fears hidden, because that’s what everyone does, and so as ‘not to let the terrorists know they’d won’, but then I thought, doesn’t that just feed into the right wing agenda, the defiance, the puffed out chest, us against them, immigrants not welcome, blah, blah, blah…
How about we admit our fear over these atrocities and what the future holds, instead of sticking 2 fingers up and saying, ‘nah, didn’t affect me, bring it on’. What if admitting we feel some of the feelings they feel when their children and families are killed unnecessarily? What if we make this country a tolerant and accepting place that everyone can call home, instead of marginalising segments, pushing them further away, isolating them and making them feel culturally lost in a place they have always called home?
By showing our vulnerability, and joining together, we have the best chance of making some progress towards healing these catastrophic rifts that tear families apart, instead of pretending it doesn’t affect us.
Just so it’s clear; I have a child, and he is my number 1 priority, and just trying for 5 seconds to put myself in the shoes of anyone who’s lost a child breaks my heart, so no I won’t be carrying on as normal, I will be looking over my shoulder, I will be alert, and I will do everything I can to ensure his and our safety, and if that means I cannot carry on as normal so be it. Until we get the f*ck out of here. Roll on Spring 2018…
Footnote: Just after writing this, I did a search to see if there was anyone else out there that shared my views, not really expecting anyone to be on board with my obvious irrationality. I found this article from back in 2015, and in it Zoe Williams conveys my feelings far more eloquently than I ever could: