Friday, July 07, 2006


I remember going into work last year, pulling up iTunes, and starting the Virgin Radio stream. It was one of the few days I didn’t listen to NPR on the way to work. Needless to say, I was surprised to hear the somber, confused, and startled tone in the usually chipper British DJs that day as the London bombings unfolded around them. Instantly, memories of 9/11 flooded into my head and I was left wondering, was there more to come?

The DJs did a phenomenal job keeping calm and giving clear information, and not speculation, to the listeners. The UK police were excellent in their press conferences. Everyone seemed to move like a well oiled machine. London was very lucky that day. Things could have been worse, and without the leadership that was clearly evident, panic could have taken over the streets. Would this have been the case had 9/11 not happened? I don’t know. But something inside me tells me that they’ve been planning for something like this for a while, and on that day all of their training was put to the test and they performed quite well.

I was pretty bummed that day and I don’t know why. Sure, people I didn’t know in a country far far away were dead, but that wasn’t it. I had no connection to the dead, no real remorse. They could have all passed away from natural causes and I would have had no idea. No, I was sad because that day I knew the innocence many of those commuters once had was gone, and it would never return. The bombers didn’t just hit the ‘Tubes, they hit the busses too, and unlike here, those two forms of mass transit are the life lines of many commuters in the city of London.

The innocence was gone. No longer would someone be able to take the ‘tube and not look behind them. No longer could someone take a bus and not give a second glance to the “strange man” sitting by himself. No longer would an Arab be able to wake freely in the subway stations or bus stations without everyone’s eyes looking on them. That was all behind them now, that was all 7/6.

The worst part is that the people of London don’t want to act this way. They don’t do it on purpose. Its human nature, and very hard to fight against, I’m guilty of it myself. On the last plane flight I was on there were three Arab men sitting together, talking quietly in Arabic (or Farsi, they might have been Persian), and I sat there, wondering, could this be it? I looked around wanting to know who else would help me if something happened. What if I panicked and didn’t do anything? Could I count on someone else to be the hero? Then, I felt guilty, knowing this wasn’t fair to those guys, or to anyone else. Of course no one was going to hijack the plane, of course nothing was going to go wrong, but still…that was still there in my head, and it wasn’t ever there before 9/11.

The innocence is gone. Will it return? I don’t know. Fear is a dangerous thing. The challenge is to make sure people don’t take advantage of that fear.




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