Cultural Experience | United Kingdom

Why I refuse to be afraid.

By Author, Alea Samantha:  Wild Heart, Restless Mind.

I spent a half hour on the tube Saturday night, my stomach tied in knots. I had no idea what was going on above me, only that the train was refusing to move and that ‘a severe delay was occurring and we will be moving shortly’. The Underground has very little wifi, therefore delaying any connection to the world above. However, when I arrived to Moorgate Tube Station instead of London Bridge or Bank Street Tube Station, I knew something had gone amiss.

Three months ago Khalid Masood killed five individuals in Westminster. Thirteen days ago Salman Abedi killed twenty-two people in Manchester. Now two nights ago seven people were killed senselessly near London Bridge, a place that is only a ten minute walk from where I work every week day. It physically hurts me that we live in a world where we can no longer enjoy music, a drink or a walk through the city without some sort of fear instilled into us. I don’t understand why anyone believes that murder is a solution to a problem or a form of protest. I don’t think I ever will.

Perhaps one of the hardest things about these attacks are the assumptions that they are related to religion or race. I heard people discussing how it must have been a ‘Muslim’ like all of the other attacks that have been occurring. I wanted to vomit. The individuals who plan and execute these attacks are not human: they are monsters who want to instil fear and pain into the lives of those around them. They are selfish, cold-hearted monsters that is it.

How we’re meant to continue on with our lives without as though there is no need to fear is hard. There have been moments on my commute home, crowded with hundreds of people, when I wonder how something could happen. Is there a solution? Is there an escape plan? Unfortunately, no matter how much planning one does there is not always an escape route.

I felt shaken as I finally was off the train and making my way home through a long commute. But as I sat there on the train, next to a drunk man who spent most of his train ride making me laugh, I remembered one of the beautiful things about the world. London, and the world, always stay strong in the wake of tragedy. The look of defiance in the eyes of fellow Londoners and the speeches that erupted to unify the country reminded me that there is strength. Homeless people tend to the injured, coffee shop owners open their doors, bartenders throw glasses and chairs to defend people and police officers and first responders risk their lives to capture killers and help make the city a little safer.

Despite the awful truth that the world can be scary, it is simply impossible to live a life of fear. You can’t stop taking the tube to work, going for walks in a busy city or stopping at your favourite food market. The simple truth is that our lives are mapped out accordingly by our destinies, whatever that may be, and what will be will be. If we stop travelling, drinking, eating and living our lives then we simply let the monsters win. And from all the fairy tales I’ve read, when the monsters win nothing good comes of it.

If you are reading, I want you to stop blaming the innocent. I want you to stop assuming. I even want you to stop being angry with the tweets that have erupted from insensitive politicians who know nothing. Stop spreading hate, stop using religion as an excuse to be hurtful and, above all, love your fellow Londoners and worldly people because they stand next to you.

Do not look at someone and assume that something is amiss because of the colour of their skin, the way they dress or what they practice. If you are physically or verbally abusive towards someone because of ‘the rise of terrorism’ then you simply are committing a crime yourself. Who knows how much time we have in the world, who knows what might happen if we are caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, but if we start thinking like that then we will never live our lives and our lives are far too precious to be wasted. Our lives are far too short to wonder about the ‘what ifs’ of the world around us. I will never be able to promise you peace and I will always be scared of the unknown but I want you to smile. Smile to a stranger and give love and hope to them. Offer warmth and kindness because life is too short to be afraid and divided. Don’t be hateful: be kind, loving and look for the good in the world around you. I have seen too much good in the world to be hopelessly afraid.

Despite what Britain, and the world, is going through, we are stronger than the monsters have made us out to be. We cannot, and will not, let their actions define who we are as a society because we are warriors, not victims. So yes, be afraid as you are allowed to be, but use that fear to love. To live. To be free.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ ” – Mr. Rogers



Alea Gilhuly-Mandel

Curry College | 1 story

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