On July 7th, 2005 I left my flat in Southfeilds, in the south of London and took the tube to my work in Kensignton. It was a typical day, with me wishing that it was weekend because as usual I had gone to bed so late the night before. I had been living in England for just over a year and was loving it. I used to work to walk quite often, mostly because I loved being out in central London so much. But it took me two hours to get to work that way and owing to the fact that I was exhausted that morning I took the train a little late.
I can't remember much about that morning but when I look back now I remember feeling rather unsettled sitting at my desk and not knowing why. It was so quite. Too quite. An hour and a half after I arrived the phone rang and it was one of the psychotherapists at the practice where I worked asking to speak to my boss. "Have you heard whats happened?" he asked. I had no idea. "There are bombs going off on the Underground" he said casually...so casually that I actually thought he was joking. He actually starting laughing and then told me to tell my boss that they were shutting down central London and he was not able to get in so he was going to start walking home. I sat at my desk shell shocked after that call not sure what to do, still not quite believing what I had heard.
The phone rang about three minutes later, just has I had noticed I had 6 text messages on my cellphone. It was my grandmother's cousin who lived in Wimbledon, frantic wanting to know if I was alright. She told me that three bombs had exploded on three different Underground trains, one of them was on the train line where I worked. Knowing my Mom would freak out as soon as she heard the news I asked her to phone my parents in South Africa and let them know I was alright. The rest of day was spent frantically trying to contact friends around the city, which was difficult as they had shut down the cellular network in central London. All public transport was suspended and later that day there was a sight most likely never to be seen again. Millions of people walking the streets to get home. By the time my boss let me go home the streets were empty and deathly silent- there were no cars or people. I knew the way home from walking to and fro to work but was I terrified walking that night. I eventually got home at 10pm to three relieved housemates.
Terrorism to me was something that seemed to only be exclusively on T.V. It never seemed to be real, something that always happened in a country worlds away. I had watched as an 18- year old in numb disbelief as those planes had hit the Twin Towers could not comprehend how a person could actually do that. For the first time that day, the monster that had been trapped in a television set touched my life and became very, very real. The real weapon that terrorism uses is fear, panic and confusion that normally hits in it's aftermath making the world angrier and more dangerous.
Today is the 7th anniversary of the London bombings. Seven years ago today four very misguided young men stepped onto London's public transport, which services over a million people a day, and took their lives and those of 52 other people when they detonated explosives strapped to their bodies. 700 hundred more people were injured. In the days that followed a shadow was cast over the country. It was almost like a sort of universal trust had been broken. In time everyone recovered from their shock and anger. But things were never the same again.
I have often found it odd, especially since deciding to follow God again, how people can commit the most horrible atrocities against mankind all in the name of something that in my opinion that is all about love. I personally feel that God is all about life. He speaks life onto us. His command is love. Yet somehow people use God to kill and control other people. They project their own selfish desires onto God and make it all about Him when it's actually all about them.
From what I know about Islam it has to be one of the most peaceful and honorable religions out there. Some of the greatest people I have ever known have been Muslim. We once had a Islamic landlord who let my family stay rent- free in our house for months after my Dad had his heart attack and my mother became unemployed because his way of honoring his God was to shelter us. Because of a handful of extremists shame has been cast onto millions of other peaceful Muslims.
Like I said before, terrorism's greatest weapon is fear. Fear does terrible things to people and is even more dangerous when it affects people on a mass scale. One of the characters in Starwars said that fear eventually leads to hatred. An emotional cancer. This is so true, I think most of you will agree with me that 9/11 changed the world and we are now more afraid and more angry. It has taken away a piece of our freedom. Some of us will never be able to fly without the niggling feeling of, "Will I make it?". Some of us now insist upon living behind ridiculously high wall for protection. People are afraid to go outside because of "What if?. I know plenty of people that will not completely trust someone because they are
What can we do to change this? I have no idea except for the way that I reacted after the London bombings. The day after, I got back on the tube and went to work. I was one just six people in that carriage. Normally it's packed. We had to stop in the middle of a tunnel for five minutes which got me a little unnerved and I asked a guy sitting further away if I could sit with him, eventually all six of us were sitting together. I can't exactly say it was the most pleasant journey of my life. But I made it to work that morning, one of the very few people in London that did. The second time I got on the train it was easier and the third time...
So my answer would be learn from the experience, never forget but to move on. Yes those people have got us afraid but don't give in to it or you will be doing exactly want they want you to do. Don't be prejudiced and distrustful toward someone because they are part of a religion that happens to have a few extremists. Don't listen to the "What ifs". Don't hide behind walls. You don't have to change the world but you can make a difference to your small corner. That is the only way to win this war. That way your children will not inherit a world of hatred .