I grew up through my formative years in the 70’s and 80’s. A time, here in Britain, when terrorism was marked by the IRA; aside from the sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, it was the IRA that brought the reality to the mainland.
Their terrorism was, for the most part, marked by disruption and token destruction; bombs were planted, warning telephone calls were made and, relatively speaking, few lives were lost. And no terrorist would either allow themselves to be killed, or intentionally blow themselves up. So, as sometimes tragic and disconcerting as those times – and certainly some significant events – were, the vulnerability felt by the wider public was arguably less terrified and more an uncertain vulnerability.
But terrorism now – in Europe – is something entirely different. When you’re faced with people prepared to die for their perception of the greater cause; people who hold such a twisted sense of mortality that after sadistically murdering numerous innocent people in cold blood will then send themselves to paradise; there is much to be terrified about. And coupled with the 24 hour news and social media; martyrdom, infamy and terror is complete.
However, I want to close by referring to a comment apparently posted on social media last night, from someone caught in the middle of the carnage. They said they’d seen the worst of humanity last night … and the best. Invited in from off the streets by strangers. Terrified but supportive of one another and resolute.
This is the light that must never go out.