Three terrorist attacks in as many months in the UK and for many the cry is “we are not afraid” life carries on as normal. By halting our plans, our days we are letting them win. And it’s okay to feel like that.
Yet for others, fear is leading them to go about changing their plans, their day to day lives. And that’s okay too.
For others anxiety may have crippled them to the point they could not leave the house. At all. Leading them to seek change, seek therapy.
And for me?
I am afraid. But not for the reasons you may think.
In a week I will board a plane here in Qatar and fly home for the summer as part of the Middle Eastern Summer Migration that seems to take place each year amongst the mums, the kids and the expat wives.
I will board that plane amidst the diplomatic chaos, with airspace closures and rifts between the Gulf Nations having faith that by the time I return it will have reached an amicable resolution. And even if it is still ongoing I will return here, home to Qatar, to continue on with our life. Heading to school, work, nursery. Back out to the coffee shops that will be open once again following Ramadan.
Yet I will still be afraid.
Whilst at home in the UK I have big plans, plans for a summer to remember. We are headed to Paultons Park to meet Peppa Pig. I will travel down to London with the boys to meet my husband off the plane and spend a weekend in our old home. I will get on the tube, on the bus, on public transport. I will head into crowded city centres, consider taking trips to the theatre.
I will continue to live as I always have done.
Yet I will still be afraid.
Not of terrorist attacks or diplomatic strife. Not of bombs and gun shot. Though these are all terrifying things to live through and something I would never wish on anyone. I hope that still my chances of being involved in a terrorist attack is small. I understand in my head, though not my heart, that there is more chance of us being in a car accident and I do not let that stop me getting into a car.
I am afraid of lack of tolerance. Of hatred pouring out. I’m afraid that my children’s innocent ears will hear the vitriol spouted by few, heard by many. The thought of segregation due to religious beliefs, political beliefs, cultural beliefs, spiritual beliefs, terrifies me.
Most of all I am afraid for my children growing up in a world where terror and hatred are spewed out around them, overriding the good, the love, the tolerance.
For there is so much good.
So much love.
Yet one act of hatred, of pure evil, has shock reverberations that can be felt around the globe. Racist slurs poured out on Facebook. Chants of send them back, of “one Britain” rising around.
That is not what I teach my boys. That is not what I understand of the world, of people, of love.
And I am afraid that my children will not see the good, the love. That the chants of the few will drown out the love of the many.
I am terrified that my wonderful, accepting, innocent children, who live in an Islamic country, who have an understanding of the Muslim faith and Muslim community, who have friends who are Muslim, who are Christian, who are Hindu, will look at me in bewilderment and ask me why.
Because I have no answers for ignorance, for hatred, for people who shout loud and bully.
Other than everybody is different, everyone has different beliefs, different hopes and dreams. And it is our differences that makes us special, for the world would be a boring place if we were all the same.
Keep love in your heart and walk away from anyone who tries to drag you down. Defend those who cannot defend themselves and know that when people speak ill of others it is often through ignorance.
And you are bigger than that, smarter than that, and above all more loving than that.
Be a friend to everyone.