I am in England right now and the other night as we walked home from dinner a passing glance in a pub window made me stop. A news program was showing scenes of police and ambulances. I knew something bad had happened somewhere in the world.
I avoid the news. Years ago I realized that the news is less a source of information, and more in the business of capturing our attention, to commodify and sell the harrowing and gory details of tragedy. Reading or watching the news leaves me feeling hopeless, helpless, and angry, all emotions I’d rather avoid. It’s not that I don’t care about the troubles of the world. I do feel a strong responsibility to keep myself educated and informed, but I do not feel that consuming large amounts of daily tragedy is the best way. I prefer to find a way to take action, or at the very least, I try to gather information from multiple sources.
Sometimes the news can’t be avoided. Last winter while I was in England, the Charlie Hebdo attack occurred. Here I am again in England, and once again Paris is under attack. Tonight I am supposed to do something that many people in Paris were killed for doing, I am attending a music concert. In two nights I am supposed to do something else people in Paris were killed for doing, going to a soccer game. I’ll be watching the same team, France, who was playing, while outside their stadium a suicide bomber detonated a device. While I am certain there will be increased surveillance and security, and I understand that this is England and not France, I am not mollified. I am terrified.
My immediate thought was “I’m not going.”
I want to stay where it is safe. I want to remain alive. I am not certain I love Frank Turner’s music enough to die for it. I certainly do not love soccer/football enough to risk my life, (even if is a small risk). Many people are saying we need to stand resolute and defiant in the face of terrorism. I think it’s a great sentiment until one is forced to face it. It’s all fine and dandy to say these words across the ocean, in the safety of Canada, but when the decision is staring one in the face, it’s not so easy. I have a gazillion reasons to stay home.
I have one single reason to go.
When the flood of refugees poured out of Syria, I expressed frustration. “If these are truly the good people why did they not stay and fight? Why are they running rather than trying to change their country?”
I think I have my answer. I am faced with only the slightest possibility of coming face to face with murderous terrorists and I want to avoid… I want to run. These people were faced with actual beheadings, amputations, public executions, forced military enslavement, and many other acts of violence. It’s so much easier to ask others to be courageous and brave while we get to sit in safety as smug armchair critics.
In June of next year, I have a trip to France planned to watch three European Championship football games. Tonight I have a concert. In two nights I can watch England versus France, at Wembley Stadium. It is more likely than not, that I will be facing anxiety rather than violence, should I choose to do any or all of these events. I will probably be safe but there are no guarantees. I know rationally that death and violence can come at any time from many directions, not just terrorists. I also know from watching the news that violence is occurring nearby. England could very well have terror cells lurking too.
I have always know the world has evil. Human beings determined to destroy other human beings is my definition of evil. I want us all to work against evil. I want to be strong in the face of evil. I also want to live. I want to keep living the life that I love so much. Most of all, I want to live in a world where people learn to stop fucking harming each other.