Terrorist events are never pleasant news. But this London bombing struck
home to me for several reasons. First, I was born in London, and
both worked and lived there for most of my life. Second, I have
regularly used those very stations that were hit by the London bombs
just a few days ago.
For instance, Liverpool Street station is one I used each weekday
for four and a half years. And I have spent a lot of time sitting
reading in tube trains at Aldgate station (a stopping point to
change driver etc.) waiting for them to move on. And I used to
change train every day at King’s Cross for another job.
So I have some empathy for what people are suffering at this
time. All we can really do is send out good wishes and prayers
for some healing to the situation, especially to those still
waiting for news of the missing (and most probably, dead).
There was a certain inevitability about it all though, which I am
sure has not been lost on Londoners, or those in the wider
country of Britain. They say that people in glass houses
shouldn’t throw stones. Well, it seems that in recent years,
Britain and America have become the ultimate stone-throwing glass
house dwellers, or should we say their governments have. The
people on the street generally have more good sense.
The bitter irony is that the those making the big bombastic
statements, and taking the wild decisions that directly
endanger their own citizens, will never be the ones spilling
THEIR blood on the streets. Instead, they pledge OUR blood –
yours and mine – in their “firm resolve” in the “War Against
“Terrorism”. They do it from the safety of their bullet-proof
offices, or from behind a line of twenty bodyguards.
It’s easy to be brave when someone ELSE has to die for it, don’t
Conveniently, they never have to face the DIRECT consequences of
their behavior. Instead we do – you and I – as has been so
graphically illustrated this week.
And if we are going to use the word “war”, then we cannot forget
that a war is not all one-sided. People die on BOTH sides. THAT
is what is meant by a war!
Perhaps that was a point missed by the big talkers. Maybe they
think that war only works in one direction, i.e. they order the
killing and it gets done. Sadly, it isn’t so.
It’s always the blood of the ordinary people – yours and mine –
that will be shed for this kind of thing. In airplanes, on
trains, as we work in our offices, or take our vacations. One
group of people deliver the rhetoric. Another group of people
die for it. Never the twain shall meet.
This is NOT to absolve, or to agree with, the people who
committed this dreadful act. However, it has to be understood
that the motives behind this kind of behavior are far more
complex than most of us would be prepared to admit. The causes
are complex, and so too must be the solution. Simply shooting
people dead either in England or Iraq ain’t gonna to cut it!
However, the world has moved on from 9/11. People seem to be
seeing for themselves that simplistic word formulas from
self-serving politicians don’t accurately describe complex
solutions. Nor do they provide a solution to deep-seated
problems. They’re beginning to see through their leaders and
demand more than empty words.
Blair damaged himself and his party badly in the last election
through supporting the Bush war. However, the people seemed to have
forgotten the war and its consequences come election time.
Otherwise, they might have delivered Blair the ultimate bloody
nose by throwing him and his party out of power. Like the Americans
during the same period, they became predictably focused on their
own self-serving local agendas – health services, immigration, taxation,
and so on. The actions being perpetrated in Iraq in their name
slipped out of their minds.
I guess the London bomb incidents will remind them?…
As for Bush – the single most unpopular American President in
history since opinion polls began – he was only re-elected
through the FEAR of the American people. HIS campaign was to
essentially terrorize the people into believing that he was the
ONLY valid solution to keep the terrorists at bay.
Anyway, moving back to the London bombs, what was very striking throughout is the
mature way in which the British public on the street seemed to
respond to the situation. There seemed to be a quiet
determination not to be cowed or intimidated, but to get on with
their lives as before. There was not much baying for blood. No
hysteria or rage, even from those who had lost loved ones. It is
something to be proud of; this maturity in the face of ultimate
Maybe it is because Britain is very used to terrorist acts on its
mainland, unlike America, who seemed to have been living in a
fantasy world up until 9/11; totally unwilling to believe or
accept that its international behavior would eventually reap
consequences. Indeed, when 9/11 hit, many Americans simply
refused to connect the event to anything that the US might have
been involved in, and blankly wandered around asking “Why would
anyone do this to us, after all the good we’ve done?”
That’s the commendable but innocent view of the public, naively
unaware of what their own government has been getting up to
around the globe.
The British are perhaps less easily fooled because they could
always see and understand the history of Britain’s activity in
Northern Ireland and the direct consequences it reaped upon THEM
on the mainland. In other words, Cause and Effect were much
easier to track in Britain than with America, where vast oceans
separated the Causes from the Effect. In Britain, they were
faster and closer.
But Americans are finally beginning to pick up on this too. They
are beginning to understand the Cause/Effect relationship.
And it certainly has not been lost on Spain, who pulled out of
the “war” after the Madrid train bombing, and are now pledged to
trying to tackle the causes of terrorism (poverty, ignorance,
etc.), rather than simply going around killing people, and
somehow thinking that this will make things better!
Again, it has to be repeated that none of this is even slightly
approving or excusing what these violent killers do to innocent
people. However, the balance needs to be redressed. The
simplistic formulas of Good vs. Evil trotted out by politicians
are hopelessly worn out. We have heard them too much and too
often. They hold no water.
We have to start to THINK for ourselves, not let other people brainwash us.
No, terror is NOT a valid means of resolving grievances, such as this London bombing, and it
can never be. BUT neither can the actions carried out by our own
governments be properly justified either. A “quick fix” such as a
“war on terrorism” can never work, but can only create more of
the very thing it seeks to eradicate.
Instead, we have to seek to eradicate the causes that radicalize
young people into joining these terrible terrorist groups. We
have to deal with the REAL causes – not simply engage in name
Anyway, let us keep our thoughts and prayers with the people who
have lost loved ones in the London bombs, with those lying critically ill in
hospital, and with those who are making the great transition.
There is not much we can do about the world scene, to be honest.
So, let us direct our mental and spiritual energies where they
are likely to do some good.