Friday, 24 March 2017

It's OK to be a bit scared

I'm not scared. This week, some loser in a Hyundai senselessly murdered four innocent people about a mile from where I work but I'm not scared. Sad, yes. Appalled, yes. Sickened, yes. But not scared. I simply don't see the point in being scared, I don't see what being scared will achieve. 

But this does not make me a superior London resident. Some people here are scared and that's OK too. 

Amid the usual bluster about how we won't be cowed, about how we got through the hideous era of IRA terrorism and the Blitz, this week's awful events, and others like it, have spooked some people. Not everyone is walking around London singing jaunty wartime ditties and behaving like a "Keep Calm And Carry On" poster that has come to life.

The people who are scared are not massive racists or inane bigots. They are not idiots who freak out because a mosque has been built in their borough or change tube carriages because a woman in a hijab has got on board.

They are people who are simply scared because none of us know when terrorism will strike again. Will it impact on us? Will we lose friends or family members? What if some twat kills our kids? 

And that is why terrorism is effective - it is all about the grotesque element of surprise. 

The people who died in London this week were not expecting an inadequate dickhead would kill them. Equally, people do not expect to be killed when they go to a concert in Paris, have a boozy holiday in Bali, pop out for a coffee in Sydney's business district, go to work in New York, do their job as an MP in Yorkshire or any number of things for which death should never be the penalty.

It might be true that cancer or heart disease or the pollution of London is more likely to claim our lives than a terrorist but fear is not always rational. Hell, I am scared of entering a public toilet and discovering it is a pull-chain loo. My rational brain tells me the toilet probably won't hurt me but, after one such toilet in Turkey juddered away from the wall when I pulled the chain, my fearful brain tells me I should hold on until I can find a low-level loo with a button or lever.

Within hours of the attack, it was indeed business as usual in London. That is the way it should be. Last night as I was on my way to the tube after work, a Spanish couple asked me for directions to the Houses of Parliament so they could pay their respects. It was a properly moving London moment and I hope my directions made sense to them. 

If anyone is scared, they deserve compassion and reassurance, not scorn. If anyone marks themselves as safe on Facebook, they are simply using a modern form of communication to reassure others who might be worried. Now is not the time to tell people how to react to a tragic event. We all react to tragic events in our own ways. You only need to look at the varied faces of people at any given funeral to work that out.

Predictably, Daesh has claimed responsibility for this week's fuckery even though they probably had no idea who the murderous thug was before the news broke on Wednesday. They don't need to know him personally because anyone with an internet connection can be disgracefully inspired by the acts and warped messages of Daesh. 

I'm not going to name the terrorist. He does not deserve the attention or the posthumous fame. He was last seen by us all as a bloated, middle-aged turd dying on a road. He is not a hero or a martyr. He is nothing. Instead, we should remember PC Keith Palmer, Aysha Frade, Leslie Rhodes and Kurt Cochran. We should honour the paramedics, the police, the doctors and nurses who ran towards the incident from a nearby hospital to help, and, yes, we should honour the journalists who were on the scene reporting responsibly.

And if you're still a bit scared, that's OK. We've got your back, we are with you.

1 comment:

  1. Frankly, you don't know scared until, on your own, you have to search behind every book on every shelf in a library in Canning Town in an evacuated building to find a 'device' before the police and bomb squad will deign to come and investigate. That was me in the late 1970s in the library in Canning Town, East London. I didn't feel any kind of hero. It was my job. I was a Londoner and my forebears had endured much worse from plague to Blitz. Thankfully, the whole thing was a hoax. As I recall, I was allowed to go home from work an hour early as a reward!