Exactly one year ago, I woke up a little later than usual in my cozy (read: small) room in Florence, ready to fly to Malta for Easter. I wanted to surprise my family and friends, so I decided to not tell anyone about it.
Exactly one year ago I woke up to horrific sights of Brussels being pillaged by what was evidently a terrorist attack at its airport, and later on in Maelbeek metro station – the same airport I used to travel from when I lived there, and more than anything, the same metro station I used to stop at every single day to go to work. I couldn’t have been more shocked. I left many friends behind in Brussels – and knew many Maltese friends who travelled back and forth for work as well. I spent probably what was one of the most morose mornings ever – going through my newsfeed, making sure everyone I knew in Brussels marked themselves safe. I was devastated. Not because the attacks in Paris and elsewhere did not devastate me – they sure did. But now, the attacks hit much closer to home – maybe, a little too close.
Never in my life had I been so scared at an airport than that precise day. Not because I was afraid of the same thing happening to me on that same day – but mostly because without realising it, I too started looking suspiciously at people, I too started looking for the closest emergency exits, I too started to jump with every suspicious sound I heard, I too started looking for a place I could hide behind should the same thing happen to me. And I was scared because I felt that at that precise moment, I was a unit by which this terror war is being measured: the terror you can induce in people in such normal situations – when they’re at the airport, just waiting to go home.
Not only, many travel to London as though it were their second home – for shopping, to watch musicals, to see the very sights that they’ve only seen in pictures.
In just one year, one pretty much lost count of all the terrorist attacks that have followed – with the latest one being today, in central London. Again, my afternoon was spent messaging some of my closest friends who have been adventurous enough to move to London – to build a career, to experience life only a city like London can provide. Not only, many travel to London as though it were their second home – for shopping, to watch musicals, to see the very sights that they’ve only seen in pictures.
And that is what drives me mad – the way this is, in some way, a war of terrorism against culture. It’s a war that’s fighting travelling – in the era where it’s the easiest it’s ever been to travel, it’s terrorism against adventure, against traditions, against Christmas markets, against strolls on the seafront, against music, against anything that drives away our terror of being alive.
And that is why I think that what we can do as individuals is, first of all, not elect dumbass politicians, but most of all it’s fighting terror with courage, with adventure, with culture. It’s fighting all this together the same way we fight the terror of being human together every single day: by doing what makes us feel less human, and more like gods – by creating art, by taking an airplane that will take you somewhere new, by creating music et al, and not playing god and feeling less human by killing innocent people.
Stay safe, and courage my friends.