Site Search

Monday August 3, 2009

On a Wing and a Prayer

The holiday season begins and there’s always a frisson of excitement on the day, making sure everything’s packed, and that the passports and e-tickets are carefully stowed away ready for departure. In the past little thought was given to the sort of problems that might occur during the trip, other than a delay, burst tyre, an amusing mishap or misunderstanding with the locals, but rarely acts of terrorism. That is until now.

Fortunately we British living in Mallorca have always thanked our lucky stars that we have found safe harbour on a beautiful sunny island with fantastic amenities, relatively little crime and idyllic scenery. Maybe some of us have been naïve in thinking that here we are isolated from harm, that terrorists don’t walk our streets but we’d be wrong because even bad things happen in paradise. The simple fact is that these days there are few pockets on the planet that can be called safe although in comparison, Mallorca is still a haven of relative peace and security.

Returning to London regularly I am acutely aware that many of my friends find bomb threats and terrorist attacks a thing of the present. They are cautious, wary and vigilant on their daily travels around the city. There is a silent understanding among them that today could just be the day of another atrocity and yet they know they must live their lives and get on with the tasks of every day life.

At Christmas we visited war torn Sri Lanka, now hopefully entering a phase of peace following the bloody civil war that raged for many years. During that time there were suspected terrorist attacks, bombs placed in stations, on buses, in busy thoroughfares. There were ladies who purported to be pregnant but were in reality carrying packs of heavy explosives around their stomachs, poised to blow up military and police installations in the heart of Colombo. Suicide bombings, and indiscriminate killings had all became a part of life for most Sri Lankans, and even for us during those three weeks, as with previous trips, we too became philosophical about the potential dangers.

Yesterday’s explosion in Palmanova which claimed the lives of two young police officers just doing their jobs, cuts to the very core of humanity. There is a feeling of total shock, disbelief and utter horror and then a form of impotent rage. The names of the rebels without a cause, don’t matter. The mayhem, grief and broken lives they leave in their wake, does.

A Mallorcan friend popped by the house yesterday afternoon, solemn and shaken. Her brother in law, a police officer, worked in the Calvia district and had been searching cars for bombs. They had heard the news of the killings and the family had been frozen with fear. Could it be? Might it possibly be the day? The end of the line? Just a policeman, doing his job. For her family at least there was a sigh of relief, marred by the grief they all felt for the two families coping with sudden losses- a son, a brother, cousin, nephew, perhaps? Strip away the job and all that’s left is a loved one whose loss has left those behind heart broken and destroyed.

It is easy to shut up the doors, block out the light, cancel the flights, bunker down and pretend we’re not living in a big, bad world full of those whose trademark is hate but we are. Evil, sad and bad things happen and we have to keep our chin up, face the harsh realities and yes, go about our business and show that there are good guys out there. We must not allow ourselves to be diminished by fear and the misplaced bitterness and hatred of others, even if we’re shaking in our boots out on the street. Cruelty, savagery, bitterness and bigoted hatred have no place in a civilised society and it is our job to keep the wheels turning, to face the day and to make our damaged world a better place, against the odds.

Please feel free to comment on this article. All comments are moderated, so it will appear after I have checked it. Thanks!