Yesterday, an innocent bystander was attacked with a meat cleaver and a knife on a busy road in Woolwich, central London. The man was a soldier, based at nearby barracks, and before he was hacked to death in daylight hours on a main street, he was run over by another attacker in a vehicle.
It's easy to get overwhelmed by it all, to be honest. Part of me wants to not read anything about the incident and to avoid the news so I don't see any graphic, disturbing footage. However, I feel it's better to know what is going on in the country and the world, even if it's horrific. But how to deal with the situation, to take it on board, but not to fall into the trap of fear?
I was reminded of something I heard during the Boston Marathon Bombings coverage. One woman, watching the breaking news on TV with her little boy was reported to have said the following tocomforting him:
"Look for the helpers"
Look for the men taking injured people into their arms and carrying them from danger.
Look for the people caught on scene attending to the injured, outside of an official medical
Look for the children taking hold of their younger siblings hands and taking them to
Look for the good people helping strangers in an awful situation.
This helps to restores your faith in humankind and remind you that there are some good people in the world, fighting for justice, looking after their fellow human beings.
A great example of 'helpers' from yesterday's unimaginably brutal attack on the undeserving guy were the women at the scene who shielded the body - presumably from the media, from the road, from mobile phones from onlookers taking photos/videos, and possibly, more attacks. This was a brave and selfless thing to do and offered last respects to the victim - true 'helpers'. I heard about this on the radio driving home for lunch today and it moved me to tears.
Maybe it was instinct which made the women stand up for the victim. Maybe they put themselves at risk because they were mothers. Maybe they just wanted to show a little respect to a fellow human being.
Well done, ladies.
I love my country but I know sometimes we are guilty of remembering the good guys. There are a lot of people who are negative about the UK, insular, ignorant, apathetic and even warmongering souls, who treat racism as a tool. We should be more like these courageous women who just happened to be caught up in the craziness. We cannot let intimidation and violence scare us into different ways of caring, thinking or living. Treat others as you would want to be treated - that was one of the rules we had at school. Some adults need to go back to school, I feel!
I remember something another mother, my mother, said when September 11th 2001 happened. It was advice to a 16 year old along the lines of "Do not be afraid. If we live our lives in fear, they [the terrorists] have won."
Remember this today, and give your loved ones a hug when you get home tonight. This is a great country, and in times like this we need to remember that not all of us are in-human, weapon wielding lunatics. There is a lot of compassion in British people, and this needs to be remembered and celebrated. 'Helpers' are there.
My thoughts are with the family and friends of the soldier, who has yet to be identified. May good prevail and justice be a quickly served.
Have a lovely Bank Holiday weekend, UK readers (enjoy Monday at work, everyone else, mwahahaa!). If you have a quiet few minutes, maybe you should try to write about something that moves you, to get your passion and emotion flowing through your writing.
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Born to be a Tourist