Thursday, July 14, 2005

Kia Kaha

It's been a week since the London bombings. Once the initial confusion and then horror passed, I have been astonished with what followed.

From my observations the response here in the UK has been very measured. There has been more shock at the idea that the bombers were/are British but outrage? Not so much. I don't think they understand how one of their own could do this, but they aren't going to damn the whole community for it. Every single noted public figure, from Tony Blair through Michael Howard (a man I normally associate with appealing to the masses and political point-scoring), through senior policemen to church leaders and imans have either stated their desire that the British public not alienate any community in this country, and that they recognise this for what it is, a bunch of extremists committing an extreme event.

Maybe it is the circles I move in, but I haven't seen too much overreaction. Even the virulent Daily Mail has reacted with restraint. It has been one of the truly remarkable things about these events that the (vast majority) of the British public have been stoic in their response. They might not take a sporting loss very well, but they respond a lot differently in the face of national tragedy. There's been a lot of nostalgic comparisons to the Blitz and the chin-up spirit of the British, and I don't think this is entirely unreasonable.

Every community has their bad eggs. There are plenty of nasty people in Britain. Read this story to see what I mean, but from what I have seen this week, people like this are a minority.

I grieve for the people who have lost loved ones, and especially for those who, a week later, still don't know for sure what happened to them. I also grieve for the families who have discovered that is was their sons and brothers who committed these acts. Just as I grieve for the people who died in the latest suicide bombing in Iraq. But I have seen enough this past week to have hope for the future here. The response of the British people may prove more effective in healing rifts than the approaches taken by Bush and Blair in recent years.

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