In all honesty, I’m not sure how well this post is going to gel with the rest of this blog, as it doesn’t fit in with the fun, ‘lifestyle’ type posts I typically write about my experiences as a brunch-loving, London-based PhD student. Despite that, I feel like I really do want / need to reflect on the London terror attack that happened earlier this week, and thought that writing about it here might really help me to get my thoughts in some kind of order.
Unless you’ve been living under some kind of very large rock for the past week, I’m sure that you’ll be aware, at least to some extent, of the terror attack that happened at Westminster, and the fact that several people lost their lives, with many more being injured.
When I heard the news, I had just left a course I had been attending at the KCL Waterloo campus, and (because it was raining), decided to head straight home, rather than do what I had been planning, which was to walk along the south bank, towards the Tate Modern and the houses of parliament. So, fortunately for me, I was miles away, and totally safe, when it actually happened.
Although each time there are reports of a terror attack I find myself filled with sadness and anger, the fact that this one hit (literally) so close to home sends shudders down my spine every time I turn on the news, or see it plastered over the front page of the Evening Standard. The fact that someone I know and love could have so easily been involved is one of the scariest thoughts I’ve ever had.
Fortunately, no one I know personally was hurt or involved, for which I am incredibly grateful – so why do I still feel more strongly about this attack than any other? I guess at some level it makes sense; an attack on my home city is more likely to directly affect me, and those I love, than atrocities taking place on the other side of the world. Even so, it was a difficult realisation that on some level, maybe I feel more strongly about the people of London who have been killed, injured, or bereaved (even though I have never met them), than I do about those in Paris, Brussels, Aleppo, Jakarta, or any of the other innumerable communities who have recently felt the devastating effects of terrorism.
Difficult, because I like to think of myself as someone who feels compassion and empathy for human suffering in all parts of the world. I don’t want to be someone who cares less about bad things happening, just because they’re not happening to me. When I heard the news about the London terror attack, I couldn’t focus on anything else. I was desperately checking Twitter, Facebook, and a whole host of news sites for any information on what was happening. I watched the same clips on the news over and over, lump in my throat when I thought of the relatives of those who had been killed receiving the news that the person they loved was never coming home again.
And while I do feel heartache each time I hear about a similar, senseless attack taking place in another part of the world, I don’t respond in the same proactive, borderline-obsessive way. Maybe I should? I mean, realistically, becoming consumed with every global tragedy doesn’t help anyone. But maybe I, and the multitudes of other people who care deeply about the terrible event that happened in Westminster, need to make it known that we also care about the equally horrendous (and often, more frequent) attacks happening to other communities across the globe, the majority of which don’t have the incredible levels of healthcare and emergency services that we are lucky enough to have in London.
What happened in Westminster was horrific, and I can’t imagine the pain it has caused to those directly involved. I am loath to try and put any kind of positive slant on what happened. However, as well as hearing about the awful things that occurred in Westminster, there are also many, many reports about the incredible responses of the people of London to the attack. The on- and off-duty medical staff who rushed in immediately to help. MP Tobias Ellwood trying to save the life of a wounded police officer. London Muslims raising thousands of pounds for the victims and their families. The list goes on.
The London terror attack was brutal, and terrifying, and senseless. But, it has made me reflect on how I respond to atrocities occurring in other places across the globe, and that I need to make more of an effort to actually do something.
It also shows just how amazing humanity can be. It sounds clichéd, but when I got on the tube this morning, I felt hopeful, and proud of London.