7/7/2005: London’s Terrorist Attacks

The city is at a virtual standstill and is eerily calm in light of the multiple bombings this morning. I was on the way into the city centre by bus when we were ordered to disembark and told that there had been an explosion on a similar double-decker bus and several on the underground.

Sirens have been wailing all day and the police presence is overwhelming. Word is that there have been at least 45 fatalities and hundreds more injured – this after the euphoria that gripped Londoners after yesterday’s new that the city had won the right to host the 2012 Olympic Games. The sidewalks are littered with a slow moving crowd trying to get home on foot since there is no public transport available. Once in a while I am coming across a person sobbing but otherwise calm reigns.

I have the sense of a place with a very intact cultural memory of violence, whether from World War 2 or from the IRA campaigns I cannot tell. However, I sense that the public mood will become less calm tomorrow after the initial shock has worn off.

It is strange the effect politicised violence has on people. If this had been a particularly bad train or bus crash that left a similar number dead, the institutional reaction – whether by the media or the state – would be far more muted. But now there is the urgency of a political community attacked. Everyone here feels targeted. Everyone I have spoken to has commented about their distance from the bombing sites, the extent to which their daily routine might have exposed them to a violent death had they not done a little something differently at the last instant.

Violence creates a public intimacy, a coming together and those responsible for waging it draw an ire multiplied by its group character. Everyone I have spoken to, and I have spent much of the day chattering away, has been saddened by the loss of life and limb but I have also detected an unmistakable euphoria. This latter feeling is natural. It is the knowledge that you are in the middle of great events, no matter how terrible they are. An ordinary day had been made extraordinary by the violence of the bombs and their intention. For the day, you are not one individual in a featureless mass of millions, but rather a part of one heaving, injured, self conscious organism.

Having said all that, I am sad that ordinary folks had to die today. Whenever I think about the scale and importance of the lives of people I love, and then consider those who were killed today, I am forced to conclude that a single human life is far more important than the ideas and hatreds that lead to such violence.

About bulletsandhoney
I read my first book when I was three, then my second one a few weeks later. It has carried on this way for decades with only temporary distractions of eating, fighting, loving, heartbreak and other such irrelevant biographical details.

8 Responses to 7/7/2005: London’s Terrorist Attacks

  1. Guessaurus says:

    Thank you for this MMK – you have written a summary that concludes what I personally went through, and felt (and wrote about) today. I am sure every(one)Londoner who reads this feels the same.

  2. MMK says:

    guessaurus – I hope that you and yours are OK. Thanks for writing.

  3. akiey5 says:

    I feel for all Londoners & everyone directly affected by today’s gruesome attacks. Wish you all courage, faith & speedy healing. Best wishes to all UK-based KBW members from KBWs across the Atlantic.

  4. BlakeC says:

    Though no amount of words will be able to approach bringing true comfort to those who have fealt loss today, please know that we extend our condolences. I only hope that when the initial shock and pain wear off, when those experiencing this all too human condition are able to look back they will not say…”no one cared.” Despite the natural sensation of uncertainty which often accompanies moments of great tragedy, those who know the true character of the UK and her people are quietly confident that Britain will move on, her people will recover and the strength that is often thought to be absent in the more afluent west will again overwhelm the evil that has attacked it. God be with you all.

  5. Afromusing says:

    pole sana. pole.

  6. MMK says:

    I am always touched by how people are able to feel connected to others’ injuries. London today is emptier than usual but I feel like I have captured a part of it I never knew existed. There is a real sense of coming together and a quietly stubborn mood.

  7. Candace says:

    “Whenever I think about the scale and importance of the lives of people I love, and then consider those who were killed today, I am forced to conclude that a single human life is far more important than the ideas and hatreds that lead to such violence.”

    Well said.

  8. Peg says:

    I keep repeating the same mantra over and over again. “Why?” Why does this continue to happen. Your summary of feelings are/can be a mirror of my own. Since 9/11 I have been consumed with knowing, touching, seeing or feeling the hand of anyone who has been directly or indirectly effected by these horrible events. From that day forward I have never felt that I was an american. I can’t draw a line between myself and any other person that has been at the mercy of these acts of evil. Since that day the world has slowly become one for me. One astronomical effort to defuse the hopelessness I have sometimes felt as further attacks raged on. I feel in many ways 9/11 was the precurser to the events that followed in London and elsewhere. Had our Government paid more attention could it really have been stopped? I ask. I simply don’t know. I am not a political scholar nor do I claim to be politically savvy. I no longer (if I ever did) have faith that our government and it’s military advisors can do anything to quash the ever growing hatred that belies those that would blow up a club with innocents inside to make their point. As one who came so close to dying that day, I was at first angered that my life would have been lost to this awful regime of hatred. Then I was consumed with knowing why. Finally I have rested on researching, discovering and hoping to understand it. In doing so my eyes as well my heart have been opened. The massacres fuled by hate in Rwawanda, the onging struggle of many others in the world that search for peace, freedom and the power that gives each one us. I applaud your blog. You truly have been a needed gift these past few days… thank you..

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