Half of this was written last Friday, the other half I wrote tonight – these are quite literally my thoughts spilled out on a page.
Last week I rested my head when others did not. Last week I laughed and joked when others did not. This week, today, I rest my head when others do not. But today* feels different, the attacks are closer to home, they could have -so easily- happened here, at home. They happen in places of joy – people were doing things I look forward to doing. They had no say on the situation, no choice in the matter. That’s what scares me. Suddenly, a relaxing Friday night turns into chaos. Attack in Paris. 18 dead. 30 dead. 35 dead. Possibly 60 hostages. Then all of a sudden I wake. 129 dead. I didn’t cry – saddness was there- it clung to me all weekend as I went around my daily business, it weighed down my heart every glimpse I saw on the news. Every tweet – and every ignorant tweet.
I won’t sit here and lie and pretend Paris wasn’t the wake up call for me. Paris was most certainly the wake up call. You hear about massacres, shootings, killings, brawls, explosions, wars – you hear about it all on a daily basis. And arguably Paris was different because it’s ‘closer to home’. I take safety for granted, we live in a westernised culture where these things ‘will never happen here’. But Paris was also different because in a sense (a very loose sense) I felt like I was there. I was in the middle of it, sitting in my little home here in London. I felt scared, I felt angry, I felt sick. News rolled in as fast as speculation, I saw tweets questionning the whereabouts of friends – ‘are you safe?’
So, I guess, at 18 it should have been an earlier event where it’clicked’. The shootings on the beach in Tunisia, the 7/7 bombings back in 2005, the atrocities which happen in too many places to even begin to name. But no, for some reason or other it’s Paris that has ‘clicked’. Yes, news centres on Paris -wrongly so- because suddenly we see ‘people like us’ being killed. ‘Places like ours’ getting ruined. The problem is we don’t see people as people anymore. Everything in the western world is ‘fine’ as long as they’re not hurting us. The reality is of course that this type of thing is happening globally. Day in, day out. While Paris has caught the attention of the vast majority of the public – what will we actually do to change things? What type of leader do we actually trust to change things? Why have we not learnt that war and violence doesn’t get us anywhere? We have been part of creating this problem. We have essentially created Frankenstein.
My sympathies, my condolences, my love goes out to everyone battling against this senseless violence, to the innocent people who have been caught up in it all. My love goes out to the people of Paris, in shock that something like this could happen in their beautiful city. My love also, equally, goes out to the people who deal with this regularly, in the places where people dying no longer ‘counts’ as news – as if the British public wouldn’t be able to handle the monotony of it – the ongoing struggle you’re faced with daily. I only hope that love eventually pushes through.
Following the senseless violence of the Paris terrorist attacks last week, fear has been on a lot of people’s minds. My twitter was flooded with all sorts of comments about the attacks, but most poignantly to me was the speculation – ‘this could have happened in London’, ‘the Bataclan could have been Brixton academy’, ‘it so easily could have been Westfields’. In fact my personal life has also been flooded with the same hypothetical scenarios with people suggesting they’ll be ‘staying away’ from Westfields, Oxford Circus… even the cinema.
To me, the last week has been full of underlying hysteria, people spreading and escalating a sense of fear. Fear helps no one.
As a young person living in London I for one certainly felt scared wacthing the news onfold last Friday night. I still feel scared. I feel scared the same way I did stepping onto a flight for the first time after hearing the tragedies on the news. I felt scared the same way I do if I think about the 7/7 London bombings as I board a tube. Knowing that even when on holiday, on a beach, I am not safe.
The point is, I don’t let any of that stop me. Ever. Through choosing not to go somewhere because there’s a ‘chance’ it could be subject to a terrorist attack (on the grounds that you live in a big city and may be going to a busy area) you let them win. Let them control you. I will not let these people dictate my life. I will go to a restaurant, watch a movie, lie on a beach, enjoy a concert, watch a sports game, go shopping. I will do that because we can, because we have a right to enjoy ourselves and to live. Restricting your life because of fear is not living.
So, do I live in fear? No. Sometimes I’m scared or shaken up and I’m -for sure- a worrier, but I live in freedom and hope, not fear.