Today London was attacked and once again it becomes clear that there are people in this world who are violent, cynical and cruel. Four people have died. Twenty have been injured. It is hard not to feel, hopeless, powerless and insecure. I was in London today, no-where near the attack thankfully but it is a strange feeling. Equally worrying is the thought that already political strategists are working out ways to frame this event. Finding ways to make it fit a narrative.
The facts are still coming out, but it is starting to look like the London attack is connected with ISIS. There is going to be a lot of stuff telling us that this attack proves Islam is incompatible with Western values. Britain First activists are probably putting an infographic together right now. The nationalists are drafting their press release. We are going to hear that multiculturalism has failed and that we need to respond to hate with anger and fear.
Hate and fear are powerful emotions because in the face of terror we as individuals are more or less powerless. We’re not policemen. We’re not first aiders or MI5 agents. We definitely don’t have power over geopolitics. However where we do have power is in how we react to situations. I am naive, but I think the most powerful way react to terror is to show empathy.
The man who carried out today’s attack was a human being. He had a mum. But someone twisted this man and made him care more about ideas than people. Can you imagine a lonelier, more pathetic or nihilistic kind of existence? The kind of a life that you are prepared to give up for an ideological fantasy. Where you are so consumed by hate that you are prepared kill indiscriminate strangers. This man is a sad figure, a pathetic figure and we should pity him.
Now it is easy for me to preach. I wasn’t personally affected by this attack. But I live in this country and I live in this world. Political forces will use this attack to spread their ideas and spread their hate. Our power in the face of terror is to choose how we respond. If we find the strength to show empathy, find a way to see those who disagree with us and even those trying to kill us as human beings, I think we can get through this. Liberal, loving, multicultural London will carry on.