It was, with no doubt or hyperbole, a day that changed the world. I didn’t see the television pictures, because I don’t own a television, but I was at home with the radio on that day, and remember wondering if the reports that suddenly came through were some sick version of Orson Welles’ ‘War of the Worlds’ broadcast.
Of course, they weren’t. I can’t accurately remember my exact thoughts from that day, but they involved horror, panic, anger, fear, sorrow. All the bad thoughts. It was a horrible thing to happen to anybody, to any country – hell, to any species or civilisation. A monumental wrong.
And so I reach out in compassion to those who were lost that day, and to those who lost them, and to those who tried to save them, and to those who will be forever scarred inside by what they saw or witnessed or experienced that day.
Likewise I reach out to people who were put in similar positions of loss or distress here in the UK during the London bombings. As a nation, we endured years of homegrown terrorism at the hands of the IRA. It may have enabled us to be a bit more stoic, but nothing can ever truly prepare anyone for acts of this nature. May whatever gods or beliefs those people held dear shelter them in whatever afterlife (or lack of) they chose to believe in, and the same for their families and loved ones.
Regular readers here will know that I am an unashamed peacenik. I despise war and conflict in all its forms – terrorism is merely the most current incarnation of mankind’s oldest and foulest failing. We are worth so much more as a species, yet still we kill to make our points heard, to gain advantage, or simply to pass unresisted.
And so, I also reach out to the soldiers of all nations, religions and creeds who have died (in countries far from home or at the end of their own front yards) fighting for the decisions of men who’ve never had to risk death for the choices they make on our behalf – not just those who have died since 11/09/01, but all of them ever, all the way back.
And to the civilians, caught in the crossfires of economics and politics. To the New Yorkers, to the Palestinians, the Iraqis, the Afghanis, the Spanish, the Rwandans, and so many more – more than there are names of nations that I know to label them with.
To the people tortured for what they knew, or what they wouldn’t agree to, or what their tormentors hoped they might know, or pretend to know, or just make up out of deperation. To the people who hjave starved to death to keep their children fed while wars and sanctions ordered by men in marble buildings tore apart the only land they ever knew.
To every person who has ever died of anything other than natural causes or the relentless march of time. To the poisoned, irradiated, flayed, amputated, mutilated, starved, beaten, raped – and to those who were simply neglected into their graves.
To everyone who has been a victim of the arrogance and hubris of those who make the decisions but use others to bear the consequences of them. To the people of the world. All of them. All of us.
Well, almost all.
I turn my back upon the liars, the thieves and the ideologues. The preachers, the policy-makers, the money-men and fixers. The ones who see their fellow men as nothing more than pawns in a game of power and advantage. The ones who believe themselves more than the rest of us. The ones who exploit the beliefs of the naive, the uneducated, the hungry and poor. The ones who know the right words to make a man choose to kill another man’s children in the name of his own children’s safety. The users, the despoilers of the potential of our species.
Humanity, civilisation even, has an enemy. They’re among us, hidden in plain sight. They are of every colour and race and creed on the face on the planet. You can’t spot them by what they look like. But by their actions you shall know them. By their indiscriminate and callous abuse and misweilding of power, they always reveal themselves in the end. They are the worm in the apple. The destroyers and abusers of all that is good and pure about human beings. They are the root of all the wrong that blights this beautiful planet and the lives of those who live upon it.
Watch for them. They are the true enemy. One day we will all stand up as one, and tell them ‘enough’. And then the future will truly be ours. All of ours.
In the sincerest hope that nothing like September 11th 2001 will ever happen again, to anybody, anywhere – I ask you to think of all the stupid waste that conflict has brought to the world, and to repudiate it utterly. We can be so much more than that. Let’s become it.