ashwednesday: (London)
Five years.

I was in London when it all happened, although safely away from what was happening. It was a terrible day, quite surreal, and all the stranger for having happened only a day after London won the 2012 Olympics, a real source of pride for the city.

Something that struck me at the time was how well Londoners dealt with what happened. People talk about Blitz spirit so much it's become a cliche, but cliches become cliches for a reason. There were acts of heroism carried out with no fanfare and only a need to get things done. There were cups of tea handed out on the streets and there were bad jokes made within hours - hell, knowing Londoners, probably minutes - of the explosions. What the government has done since then, how it has used events like 7/7 to make incursions on our civil liberties, troubles me a great deal. But I still have a lot of faith in ordinary people because of what I saw and heard about that day. Here's something I wrote four years ago on the first anniversary. I might write it differently now, but I think overall I can leave my points to stand.

Each death is a tragedy - for the individual, for the people who loved them, for the countries that lost them and their potential, and for society as another blow against toleration and mutual respect and human feeling. But still, in these dark hours, we see always the best of human spirit as well as the worst; the capacity for people to help one another, to joke in the face of death, to stand in the clotted dark of an underground tunnel helping the wounded to safety. There are great acts of heroism, but more importantly than that there are the little acts of heroism, the small things that let us look at one another and say, for a little while at least, you are my brother and I am yours. I think that is what the events of July 7 last year gave me a sense of: people of every colour and religion, brought together by chance in the beating heart of the city, the underground, emerging from the darkness all alike for a time - soot stained and shell shocked - and then offering, through a bad joke or a visit to the pub or holding the hand of a stranger, a hard nosed London V-sign to the people who thought they could break them, and a collective cheer for the life that will and must go on.


ashwednesday: ocean (Default)

January 2013

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