Moments of Pause

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It is with a heavy heart that we announce that due to the terrorist attacks in London, Chella will not be writing her column this week. Our hearts and prayers are with European Correspondent Chella, who is based in London, and all the people of England during this difficult time.

When we first heard about the explosions on the subway and on a bus in London, our first thoughts were with Chella. We were pretty frantic to get in touch with her, and like what happened during the September 11th attacks in this country, the method of communication that worked the best in a crisis was e-mail. She wrote back to us almost immediately saying that she was ok, and that she had just finished getting in touch will all her friends and family in London and that everyone seemed to be fine.

But even though Chella is okay, there are going to be quite a few families whose loved ones are not going to be coming home. Having lived through the September 11th attacks, we know what people there must be going through. In the first few hours after September 11 there was chaos here. Of course in Washington DC we were directly affected by those attacks when a hijacked airplane flew into the Pentagon. The city practically emptied that day. But even in cities where no attacks took place, people tended to head home early and spend the day glued to the television, keeping their families and loved ones close.

We felt helpless, angry, betrayed and an entire range of emotions that I am sure the people of England are going through. One of our main columnists at the time, Ken Urben, wrote about friends of his who were firefighters that went into the towers before the collapse and were missing. Chella will be writing about the events of Thursday, July 7th. But for now she needs time to collect her thoughts, and we of course will support her with whatever she needs.

The emotions in London are probably even more in flux this week since they just won the bid for the 2012 Olympic Games. It’s sad how euphoria can turn into nearly the opposite in just a day.

There is not much more to say. Normally we write about computer games, where for the most part the villains are pretty easy to spot. But the attackers in the real world are unfortunately more insidious. Dropping a suitcase or a lunch bag on a crowded train or bus and then heading out leaving innocent people to die is not an honorable way to fight any type of war. And even if everyone is looking for unattended packages, there are people who are willing to sit with their package and die for their cause. It is almost impossible to stop those types of people in a free society.

One really longs for the world of computer games. Sure there are lots of worlds in those games where people are oppressed by evil overlords or even entire planets that are in crisis. But at least the bad guys are well known. Normally you play the hero bent on stopping these things. But even if we had heroes like that, where would they go? Who would they go after?

It may be many years before we find out answers like that, if we ever do. The only thing we can do in the short term is to help the residents of London and the country of England however we can. In the long-term, the solutions and answers are much murkier. All we can really do is try to live life as normal. Ride the trains. Go to the movies. Spend time in the park playing with your children and try to not let these terrorists change your way of life.

That is not to say that we can’t be vigilant. The age of innocence where we can comfortably ignore a backpack sitting by itself in a restaurant are over. But the only way the average person can fight back against this type of aggressor is to strive to not let the terrorists steal our freedom. We have the right to board a train, read a book and play a computer game. And we have to make sure those freedoms stay intact.

But that is a discussion for another day. For now, our thoughts and prayers are with Londoners as they recover from this horrible act. They, like Chella, will rise above this tragedy and continue on. But for now, let’s all take a breath, collect our thoughts and let the healing begin.

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