Friday, July 08, 2005

When The Unthinkable Happens...

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It’s highly ironic that I spent part of my last blog entry reverentially praising my city. Especially when the subsequent 24 hours would evoke such a powerful example of what makes London so incredibly special.

Like everyone, I have my story to tell. Power surges, and technical failures, transforming, via horrific chaos, into and endless stream of report after report detailing barbaric explosions and bombings. Suddenly the world knew London was under attack.

This in an unapologetic cliché… to remark upon the bravery of those involved… a reaction of solidarity and strength to assert hope, and valor in the face of such cowardice. I can’t constrain such urges, when, in the aftermath of yesterday, there is so much to be proud of.

A website belonging to “Al Quaeda, Europe,” proclaimed responsibility for the attacks. In doing so they described a hellish vision of London submerged in chaos and terror. Their ascriptions could not have been further from the truth.

Londoners met this assault with calm, and a determination to continue on with their lives. The streets were solemn, and sad, but there was little panic, as, within hours, order re-emerged thanks to the phenomenal response of the emergency services. A lot of people in the United States can’t comprehend the extent to which Londoners rely upon public transport for their commute into the city. London is one of the most densely populated cities in the world.

This morning, somehow, people continued on. They took trains that were struck by security alerts, and evacuations from suspect packages. They took the number 30 bus that imploded so disastrously the previous day. Together, we’ve been here before, not so long ago.

If they object of terrorists is to terrorize, they could not have been less successful.

9/11 was a catastrophic, historic event. By any standards what occurred yesterday, was a massive terrorist assault… and yet, to 9/11 it pales by comparison. But, nobody should minimize the fear instilled in every passenger of a bus or train the breadth of this country because of this, and the courage required to continue on.

There were many heroes in uniform, but, unfortunately for them, they won’t be elevated to sainthood… as might have been the case in other parts of the world. Such is not the British way. Our press might consistently respond vitriolically over the course of the next few weeks… it’s what they do to sell copy, but, the people of London will simply proceed… working, loving the people close to them, enjoying the company of their friends, attending their favorite pubs and clubs… our lives will not change. We are sublimely assured of our own specialness, in this free, brilliantly diverse, multicultural city… there is little anger here… what remains is the determination to face tomorrow, unhindered by intimidation.

As Ken Livingstone articulately stated, this was not an attack against the mighty, nor presidents and prime ministers. The most powerful men on the planet were at the G8 conference in Scotland, from the richest countries in the world. And, yet, these cowards decided to plant bombs on trains and buses murdering defenseless civilians. This is all we ever need to know about those responsible… and the response of Londoners, I hope, is self evident to themselves, and to the world, that the perpetrators of these atrocities… picked the wrong fucking city to pathetically attempt to terrorize.

Life goes on.