Few things bring the people of this world together in such a way that they become stronger, more resilient and united. One such thing is grief.
In the light of this weeks events I felt compelled to try and put my feelings into words, and to convey the vile recipe of emotions that I have encountered.
As I watched the horror unfold on the television in the warm safety of my front room, like all of you I felt sick to the stomach. I also felt guilt at my own relative comfort and I felt the words of 'Future Legend' roll over inside my mind.
My children, fresh in from school in twisted ties and dirty knees, stood looking on in wonder. They thought at first that it was a film, and that the running and screaming, and the burning and crashing were all part of some cinematic production. But there was no King Kong, no Bruce Willis. When they saw the reaction of Julie and I, they began to ask questions. "What's happening?" - "Whereabouts is that?"
In the past if they had turned on the television to see some action movie, and they asked such questions we merely had to tell them that it was only a film, and that it wasn't actually "real". But this time it was different, they knew it was real by the atmosphere in the room. As we tried to explain, things became worse. How do you tell a child who's only past crimes have been to stamp their feet in anger, or eat too many sweet things, that certain people want to kill certain other people, themselves included, and that these people do it because they do not agree with the way other people live their lives. It is a difficult situation.
Then the television report goes to somewhere in Jerusalem and we see pictures of people singing and dancing in the streets firing volleys of bullets off into the air. My feelings turn to anger and the kids ask "Why are those people singing then?" and the only thing to do is hold the children and tell them that the world can sometimes be an awful place, but that they mustn't worry because that's all a long long way away and it wont happen here. And then of course the guilt hits you again, and the thought that it really could have been here in my country isn't far behind.
As I write this I feel selfish and guilty that I am telling you what happened in my home far from the real atrocities in America, and I feel I should be doing something more constructive to help those people directly involved. If I could hold and comfort someone touched directly by these events the way I hold and comfort my children then I might feel better, but reality states that I can't.
I see images on the television that depict events for from my own back door yet I feel affected and connected to it all because I know that the people hurt and killed are people just like those around me. Through the media and modern technology the world seems to have become so much smaller now, and through the Internet alone, people from all walks of life have become 'connected' and many new friendships and acquaintances have been forged.
One thing that the perpetrators of these horrific events may not have taken into consideration is the fact that people might just become stronger because of it, and that the bond between good people may be strengthened by their acts. The hole blasted into America sent cracks throughout the world with the intention of dividing people. But good people are stronger than that, they heal well and the scar tissue is stronger than the tissue before. There have been untold deaths because of this atrocity, and those innocent people that have lost their lives should be mourned and laid to rest in peace. But they should also rest assured that in the aftermath, the good people of this world have learned and become stronger, and that we will not bow down to terrorism and wanton death and destruction.
So what of the reaction? What is it natural to do when someone is out to kill you and yours? My initial reaction would be to fight back and if necessary to kill or be killed. But a gung-ho reaction is not what is called for. Justice must surely be done, and the guilty party (ies) made to pay, but I for one hope that the reaction is not knee-jerk. A great deal of thought is needed, and it is also necessary for people to talk and to find out why these actions are taken by the guilty party (ies). We need to understand what drives them to such cowardly and inhumane actions.
One thing I do not understand is, if these people carried out this barbarous act for recognition, why haven't they come forward and made themselves known as a group? Have they suddenly realised the enormity of their act and realised that they have bitten off more than they can chew, or are they simply as cowardly as their actions suggest?
I feel heartily sorry for the victims, and in a way we are all victims. We have all been touched by what has happened and no doubt we will witness repercussions of some sort. One thing I do know is that enough innocent blood has been shed already, and that if more innocent blood is spilled then it will only breed hatred and disrespect, which in turn will lead to further acts of terrorism and war. The real guilty party (ies) must be made to pay as quickly as possible but in a way that ensures the minimum of innocent people suffering.
It is time for the people of this world to come together in their grief, and to show those who want to kill and maim for the sake of their selfish beliefs that they will never win. There are far too many good people in this world for the bad ones to win us over. I urge all of you good people to be strong and to have faith in each other for the good of one another and for all our children.
God rest the souls of the people killed, and give comfort to others injured, both emotionally and physically by the recent events.
Give peace a chance.
13th September 2001.
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