Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Terror In The UK: How I'm Moving Forward

When driving home from Greater London at the weekend, after a fun filled family day out, a news alert pinged up on my phone.

"Breaking News: Van drives into pedestrians on London Bridge"

And so began the pattern that is becoming ever more familiar of late.

Worry, Hope that maybe this is just a freak accident, Hushed discussions with my partner ..."Maybe someone has just fallen asleep at the wheel..."..."Maybe it was just a burst speaker at the concert?"....all the while knowing deep down that this wouldn't be the case.

That these were not going to be just innocent accidents. That eventually fatalities would be announced, and we'd have confirmation that this was yet another terrorist attack on our country.

And then comes the shock, the sadness, and of course... the fear.

When you become a mother, fear takes on a whole new meaning - there is so much at stake now. You're afraid for your own safety - because there are people depending on you now, who need you to be safe. And you're afraid for their safety - a thought that is frightening enough as a mother to small children whom I still make every decision for, I can only imagine how much more terrifying that becomes when your children are old enough for school trips or to take themselves off wherever they please. When you're no longer able to decide for them what is safe to do.

But even when you are - how can you possibly make those calls? My 4 year old has been asking me if we can visit London for months now - he is so desperate to visit Kidzania and go to see the London Dungeons. A few months back, before all of this happened, I promised him we could go. Now? I have to admit, the thought terrifies me.

Is it safer now than it was before? Possibly.

Do I know that the chances of being involved in an attack like this is incredibly rare? Yes.

Does that make it any easier to make the decision when the details of these atrocities and the human suffering are so prevalent right now? No. It certainly does not.

When things like this happen, the public seem to be divided into two groups - those who are steadfast in their belief that we must carry on as normal, that doing anything less is giving in to terrorism and "letting them win".

And those who are simply too afraid - who cancel their travel plans, and do whatever they can to feel a sense of control over the situation they find themselves in.

In my opinion, neither of these groups of people are wrong. All we can do is decide for ourselves what feels like the right thing to do.

It's not a pleasant thing to feel so out of control of the world we live in. I feel pretty powerless to change things, to make the world a safer place for my children to grow up in.

But what I can do is control the way we respond to these things.

Since the weekend, my social media pages have been filled with so much hate - I have been truly shocked by the casual racism on display from those on my friends list, by the amount of people whose response to these attacks is to fight fire with fire.

I've seen calls to burn down every mosque in the UK, to keep Islam out of schools, to "send them all back to where they came from" - and it's made me realise that while I've been so fearful of the external dangers to my children out there in the world, I've neglected to protect them from the damage being done closer to home.

I can't control terrorism, I can't guarantee to be able to keep my children safe from it no matter what we do or where we go - but I can keep some level of control over the attitudes that they are exposed to so young, the damaging words that are so casually spoken without regard for consequence or even for fact.

There is enough ugliness in the world right now without choosing to expose us to more of it.

I don't have all the answers, I don't have any of them actually - but one way I'm dealing with this awful feeling of fear and powerlessness is to remove those voices of hate from our lives. Just as fear has no place within it, nor does blind hatred.

It can breed nothing but more pain and heartache.

Hate can heal nothing.

So we choose to move forward in love - to be a little kinder, to try a little harder, to send as much positivity into the world as we can -  paying no attention to the voices of hate, and refusing to allow them into our lives.

Maybe it won't change things, but I'd rather teach my children to move forward with love and hope  than raise them to hate and fear those who are different from themselves.

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