Why would anyone attack London?
London – without a doubt the most inclusive, diverse, welcoming, international, politically informed and intellectually engaged place I have ever lived – and I’ve called a fair few places home.
London – where voices can be heard, and arguments can find both informed support and intelligent dissent.
Why would anyone attack the very people that would willingly hear them out? Listen to their opinions without prejudice? Help them – or help them see another way?
Why would they have their children attack our children?
Religion can be a source of great love and community. I have seen this particularly in Europe and in South America – whole communities coming together, regardless of background or ethnicity or sexual orientation, to celebrate one another and support each other. The religion of these communities is not orthodox or radical or extreme. They do not hold up an ancient text written by different people living in a different community at a different time as the literal word of god. They take the tenets of that text – whatever the creed, it is some form of ‘be good to one another’ – and they live by them every day.
Religion can also be repulsive. I have seen this too – in other parts of Europe, in the United States, in Indonesia and in the Arab world. Communities divided by fear and misunderstanding. People persecuted for things that are beyond their control – who they love; their gender; the religion of their parents; abuses at the hands of others. Their religious communities take those ancient tenets and twist them to fit a modern context of their own invention. Their texts are not proclamations of universal love, but bitter rules about who to hate.
When people feel persecuted, they retaliate. But who had persecuted the terrorists who attacked London last night? They did not lash out at politicians, the military, religious leaders, members of their own communities they felt had abandoned them. They lashed out at regular people, civilians, the young. This was the third attack in three months. And like their fellow extremists, these three men had no arguments, no thoughts, no ideas. They had only weapons and a worthless desire to die.
You do not destroy us with your hateful acts of violence. You bring us together, in all our astonishing diversity. You do not make us hate you. You make us question what has made you hate yourselves so much.
We feel sorry for you. You feel alone, persecuted and desperate.
Your acts are upsetting to us primarily because they are pointless. Six civilians dead? In a city like London, probably not even all British? You gave up your lives for that?
A bit of back channel applause on Twitter?
Killing a handful of people in this glorious city does nothing for you or your cause. If you want to effect real change, you should stop attacking us – and try talking to us.
I defy anyone – whatever their history – not to find an open ear in London.