When bad things happen…
Checking social media early on Saturday morning, I started to get that dread feeling that something terrible had happened overnight. Flicking up the news, the horrors of what happened in Paris became all too clear.
But what did I do then? I made breakfast for the kids, took them to their karate class and then in the afternoon, we headed to the Luminere festival of light in Durham. If you haven’t seen this, it is incredible, but somebody had been hard at work through the day as the artworks were interjected with tributes to Paris, including bathing Durham Cathedral in Tricolore colours. This was a poignant moment, completely unannounced, and you could feel the ripple of understanding cross the crowd. Then the fun began and we ooh’d and aah’d en masse.
I grew up in Belfast in the 70s and 80s under the shadow of sectarian terrorism. If you think the barbarity of IS/Daesh is anything to do with ethnicity or a particular religion, then google ‘Shankill Butchers’ – those depraved murderers were from exactly the same ethnic/religious background as me – white Protestants. (IS-style suicide attacks were pioneered by the avowedly secular Tamil Tigers, so us atheists cannot see ourselves as fundamentally above the brutality either).
I wasn’t affected directly by ‘The Troubles’ but as my family and almost all my friends’/neighbours’ families had in their midst at least one ‘legitimate target’ according to Republicans (the bar was quite low), the dread was always there – the elephant in the room. But we got up every morning and went to work and to school. Some had to check under their cars before they did so, but we went about our daily lives.
The aim of all terrorism is to disrupt the rest of us, whether violently or indirectly via fear. The best thing all of us can do to defy them is to keep working to make the world a better place.