So, here we go again. Crazy thing is, I was all set to head for London very early tomorrow morning — the press event I was going to attend has now been postponed, so I’m not going, but I could easily have ended up seeing the aftermath firsthand.
But I’m not going. Therefore, terrorism has now officially altered my life in a tangible and somewhat personal fashion, perhaps for the first time. It’s just a stupid press event, of course — compared to those who have been injured or whose lives have been far more personally impacted by the bombings, it’s an insignificant little thing — but now it’s not just something I see on the news, it’s something that has made an actual change, however minor, in my life. “I’m not doing that because of the attack.”
Many people are far closer than I am. A friend of mine, Adam, lives just down the street from one of the blasts. I’m glad to say that Adam and his family are fine, but one of their friends is now in the hospital. Indeed, I have a number of friends in London; I haven’t heard back from all of them yet. They could be casualties. I realize that statistically speaking, they’re unlikely to be among the dead or injured… but I haven’t heard from them yet, and statistics are a cold comfort.
Not that there’s much comfort to be had, at all. I don’t believe in prayer; I believe the dead are gone and we have what we have, and it’s up to us to try and keep this world at least somewhat habitable. Not that we’ve ever done a very good job of it. And my own approach may not help much there; given the choice, I would glady put a bullet in every head responsible for this atrocity simply because all the excellent reasons for not doing so seem insignificant compared to the dark sense of satisfaction such an act would bring… and yet I do realize that said satisfaction would not be a good basis for a policy on the matter, and that it would not be a morally acceptable course of action for any government — it’s just what I would do; what I’ll undoubtedly do in my head a hundred times every day for the next couple of weeks. And yet I know that inane power fantasies are no way to make the world a less shitty place.
This is an awful, awful thing. “Evil” is really not a word I’m very comfortable with, but surely this act qualifies. That said, I can see why terrorism is such an attractive option for those who want to make an impact — it’s straightforward and direct and it simply works. I’m already afraid of the fucking ugly xenophobic rhetoric this event will undoubtedly spawn. We’ll see plenty of it, and it’ll wear us down, and lessen us, and turn us into ugly little balls of fear and hate and stupidity, and more than anything else, more than the actual death toll and the considerable material damage, it’s exactly that which will make the people responsible happy as pigs in shit.
Because as awful as today’s bombings were, in the grand scale of things, they’re effective simply because they inevitably bring out the worst in us — gives us an excuse to let out the stupid hateful animal instinct that makes us vomit our fear and hatred on the rest of the world. We’re predictable like that. Dependable.
Terrorism is largely based on the principle that its actual impact is perpetuated and magnified by those it affects. Chances are that we’ll play the game once again. We always do.
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