Thursday, July 14, 2005

One week on

This is a Blog as Therapy post, please forgive me for adding to the deluge (you can skip to another blog using the button above)

The day after the bombings when I walked through a quiet central London, across the river and past the exploded bus, to work, a phrase started ringing round my head, I can't remember where it came from. All responses are normal. This has helped me get through emotions that I didn't necessarily expect to feel and from judging others whose feelings I may not have agreed with. Now I want to lay all the feelings, all the thoughts, down.

I spent the day itself with a strange split sense of reality and a real sense of the almost euphoric defiance which was so widely reported as typical of stoic London. Despite reporting many of the events as I heard about them to a fellow Wikinewsie who was reporting live, I don't think I actually believed them. The deaths, the carnage, was somehow kept at a distance in my mind and it remained a story as well as an unusual opportunity to speak to people. It has only been in the days since that the reality has increasingly played on my mind. Talking about it has helped, I don't think the incessant media coverage has though I accept that I can limit my exposure to this.

Since Monday, when London were reported as returning to 'normality' but helicopters and sirens made a constant barrage of noise in our office, to this morning when I was approached by a policewoman and asked if I had seen anything 'unusual' last week, I have been in a state of stressed paralysis at work, unable to stop checking the news instead of getting on with work. Not that this is very unusual, but normally I can escape my addictions bywalking away from the computer and walking around the streets. This doesn't work if you fear major roads, people with backpacks and stalling trains, no matter how much you try not to.

Returning to normality takes effort. Perhaps we in London were too complacent in our resilience: I don't think London can genuinely heal while we are so besieged, not just by the police and the security announcements, but by the stream of headlines and pages upon pages of coverage. Security we may need, but I am angry with the press, whose need for daily stories formed the 'missing' culture, interviews with friends and family spread over special editions with a melodramatic sense of tragedy hanging over every 'not seen since getting on the Picadilly Line at 850'. I simply don't believe that this helped relatives of the victims, many of whom were in fact told in private but asked for the information not to be made public until the inquests were begun. Of course the pain of relatives waiting for news shouldn't be underestimated and maybe questions do need to be asked about the speed of identification, but the speed of doorstepping reporters also raises serious questions.

Today we spent two minutes thinking about the victims. In another show of unity and 'we're not scared', thousands of us went out onto the streets and reflected on the tragedy that had happened so close, to people who were so much like us.

We all did that in our own, normal ways and now it is time, for me at least, to really move on.

My heart goes out to all the families and friends of those who died: may you be allowed to grieve in your own way and know that the sympathy of the world is with you. Also to the families of the bombers whose world has been turned upside down and who did not kill anyone, let nobody blame them.

I want to be able to positively contribute to a world where dialogue is possible, where we seek to understand and prevent violence and accept that our view is just one of millions in the tapestry of humanity. We cannot do that from a position of fear but only from love of life. An appreciation of having survived this far, while keeping alive the memory of those who have not. And if we don't make it, at least we will have loved, and been loved in return. As someone else once said.

Thanks for listening :)


Chloe said...

Lots of people I know it London are having great trouble working out what they feel about it all. I can imagine that it must be a bugger to fathom, but in my experience not resisting anthing (feelings) and good old Time are the only things that help.

I agree about the constant coverage: In Berlin, where there are memorials on literally every street corner and bullet holes on all buildings still standing, the survivors of WW2 - Jew and 'Aryan' - protested strongly recently against a huge memorial park because they'd had enough of remembering.

They just wanted to be allowed to forget, for a little while.

Harry said...

I clicked on your blog wondering if there would be a "one week on" post and there it was.

I think one thing that is different about London (compared to say NYC) is that we are used to it. Many people remember the Blitz, most the IRA bombings. It wasn't that long ago that a bus blew up in a similar fashion a little further down Southampton Row/Kingsway.

What is hardest is that those of us who are sensitive to the injustices in the world which may cause people to take extreme actions must find a way to condemn the acts while addressing their causes. I had this same dillema with Nelson Mandela. The man was a terrorist, the ANC committed horrendous acts of violence, and Mandela himself could have been released from prison much sooner if he had renounced violence. Yet Apartheid was wrong, and had to end. For me that is the most difficult circle to square.

While there is a world of difference between Mandela's cause and that of the Islamist extremists, what we have to remember is that, in their minds, their cause is just and this is a valid expression of their grievances. The poor and oppressed people of the world do have grievances, and to dismiss these acts as committed by fanatics who want to destroy our way of life is self-defeating.

The terrorists can be defeated, but not by declaring a dangerous and ultimately futile "war" against them.

Jess said...

May you and London maintain your sanity. So many people here have been praying for me, just because I know some people who got stuck at work that day, that it's just weird.

pledge29 said...

I think it was a good idea for you to share your feelings on the London bombings because it shows other people who may not travel into London as you do, that life goes on.