When Canary Wharf was bombed in 1996, I was living in East London. I was so close that it sounded like fireworks going off in the sky. I remember rushing to the window of my aunt’s maisonette and looking up wondering where the noise came from. The next time I saw the TV, news of the bombing was all over the four channels.
Fear spread like wildfire, but at sixteen, I was too young to properly understand what it meant.
I was sat at my desk working when the twin towers were attacked. I watched with horror as the second plane flew into the building. The entire office was in a state of shock, we were sent home early. The rumours were beyond frightening. We heard that planes were on their way to all major cities, and London was going to be next.
I couldn’t get out of the square mile quickly enough, and rushed back home to be with the people I loved most. Once again fear was at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Two wars followed, and troops are still being deployed over a decade and a half later.
I was in Australia when London’s infamous 7/7 bombings happened. I watched the news in floods of tears as my beloved home town mourned. I would later meet someone who lost their dad that day.
There were many more attacks in between, and there have been countless since. So very many lives lost.
Another horrendous atrocity was committed here in the UK last night. Close to home, in an area that was part of my commute for five years. One of my favourite spots in town.
I felt sick when I heard the news from my husband this morning, and made a decision not to seek out stories about the attack. No-one needs to see human beings stabbed via live streaming, but like those who slow down on the motorway to gawp at a car crash, people just can’t help themselves.
I’ve consciously switched off from those on social media who are reacting to hate with more hate.
These are dark days we are living through. They can leave you with the sense that the world is a dangerous, heartless place. That’s it’s best to stay indoors and keep ourselves safe, but that’s not the answer.
We shouldn’t forget the innocents who have lost their lives, or had their lives turned upside down, but we mustn’t hide ourselves away either.
We need to strive to love through the hatred. We need to be willing to look past the sensationalist headlines and read the full story. We need to teach our children that some times bad things happen that we have no control over. We should answer their questions and soothe their worries without creating more fear.
As far as I’m concerned, the best way to overcome this sense of fear is by tuning out to mainstream media. Consume your information wisely, and with caution. Don’t allow yourself to be brainwashed by the papers. Don’t get caught up in pointless squabbles with people who aren’t singing from your hymn sheet. Agree to disagree like adults.
Most of all, don’t make assumptions about things you don’t fully understand: because that’s how the trouble starts.
Ultimately, we can’t live in fear that the boogeyman is coming to get us, because what kind of a life is that?