Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Fireworks & Terrorism

As I saw the first flashes of fireworks in the night sky tonight I smiled to myself, as I often do at this time of year, that we Brits celebrate the fact that someone failed to overthrow our government with the kind of displays that other nations use to celebrate their independence - or a successful removal of government!

Then it struck me.  We're celebrating that we didn't give in to terrorism.  That was a startling thought.

Surely in these days where so much of our society is affected by fear of terrorism - extra security checks at airports to name just one area - we need to take these moments to remember that we have overcome terrorism many times before.  The methods these days may seem to be different and more personally threatening to us as individuals than an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament, but it comes from the same attitude that says "I don't care who I hurt, I am right and I am going to make you do as I say".

I find myself wondering what the ordinary people thought when Guy Falkes and his group made their attempt.  Did the annual celebration that has survived through the centuries reflect their relief at the continuation of government and their way of life?  I wonder how much they knew about what had happened but I'm sure what they did know would have frightened them.  With real & hyped stories of terror threats and acts filling our screens and newspapers fear becomes inevitable.  Some people will never be directly affected by this current campaign of terrorism and yet the fear is there for many whether they are or not, and the changes to our way of life are becoming harder to ignore.  I happened to be out of London on the day of the 7/7 attacks on the London Underground, but I remember the fear in the streets two weeks later when the failed attacks closed down much of the transport system (Warren Street was visible from my office window) and how many people I worked with stopped using public transport in the centre of the city.

I know there are lots of people who do not watch the news any more because they do not want to be made to be afraid and I sympathise with that perspective to a degree.  However, I don't believe that either changing the way we live our lives because of fear or ignoring the very real dangers are helpful responses.  I want to be both aware and uncowed.  It may not change the world outside me, but it will make my own experience of life better and give me the power to act when I can to make a difference.

I'm not naive enough to think that positive thinking will see an end to the kind of hatred that leads people to kill each other - either in war or in terrorism - but I do believe that celebration of life is very important to continuing to truly live.  So from now on I'm going to take the opportunity of Fireworks Night - Guy Falkes Night - to celebrate every time terrorism has been thwarted day by day and to pray... and continue to pray with all my heart and strength... that we will see an end to all hatred, all terrorism, all war.

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