At the time of the 7/7 London bombings I was working in Kings Cross. By a stroke of fate I had decided to take that single day as holiday; had I been working it’s possible that I would have been in Kings Cross underground station at around the time of the attacks.
Instead I sat at home watching the news unfold from my bed, piecing together information and desperately trying to contact family and friends. After the initial shock had sunk in and reassuring phone calls had been made, and received, my overriding feeling was one of defiance. The next morning with steely determination I travelled to work via the tube. My usual route was disrupted as Kings Cross station remained largely closed while emergency services continued their work, but I was resolute that I would continue my life as close to normal as possible. I would not allow these attackers to affect me, I would not change my life, I would not allow the terrorists to win.
This year I have sat at home and watched the news as two more terror attacks have been carried out in the UK – in Westminster and Manchester. I am unsure whether it is the passing of 12 years or because I am now a mother, but in the wake of these attacks I did not feel defiance or determination – I felt sad. Hugely and overwhelmingly sad.
Sad for the unimaginable grief of those worst affected and sad to be forced to realise that there are people living around us with such anger and despair in their hearts that they would carry out attacks killing themselves and the most innocent of people around them. The attack in Manchester targeted an event attended, on the whole, by children and young people with their families. Not policy makers, not politicians, not even those who are old enough to vote and influence any system – just youth and innocence.
What I realise now is that while there is a place for defiance, for not allowing fear to prevent us from living life to its fullest, defiance alone is not enough. There is no win or gain to be had in being unchangeable in the face of sadness and shock. Because, the thing that has lightened my heart amidst the tragedy, amidst the heartbreak, is that there have been changes. Amazing changes. People have broken their usual social barriers and opened their homes and cars to strangers, people have offered their services and goods for free. People have joined together with a new strength and compassion. Parents have hugged their children tighter. People have told each other they love each other more.
These changes give me hope – hope for the world that my daughters are growing up into. There is still so much good in the world. Our job as parents is to help our children believe in the power of good and to never give up on the hope of peace.
“every act of evil unleashes a million acts of kindness. This is why shadows will never win while there is still light to shine” – Aaron Paquette.