Thursday, July 07, 2005

London Calling

Made the rounds, everyone who hangs here is okay, as far as I can tell.

Not posting any of that "Today we're all Londoners" crap. No. We're not. We're not pacing fruitlessly in front of the television, waiting for updates. We're not trying to reach loved ones on a shut-down cell phone system, not hearing sirens, not catching sight of something awful because we rounded the wrong corner.

London's been bombed flat during the Blitz, suffered riots, more bombings during the Troubles, and now this. And all the while, as Warren points out, without losing their bottle. I wouldn't presume to claim the stones to be a Londoner.

All I can do is what anyone should do when a friend suffers a loss. Say we're sorry. You're in our thoughts. If you need anything, call.

They're in a situation most of us can only imagine, and frankly I find it kind of cheap the way we can nod and say "We're all Londoners/from Madrid/Americans now" and then go back to our daily lives where, quite frankly, absolutely nothing has changed*. It's a way of surfing off other people's real grief, however well-intentioned.

To give due to sincerity, I suppose one can argue that to say "Today we' all Londoners/Madrid, etc." is a way of showing common cause, a shared outrage at the death of innocents. A sadness at the suffering of a fellow person, regardles sof location or nationality or even personal intimacy. A shudder at the tear in the fabric of what we consider humanity to be. When we say it in that context, what we're really saying is "Today, we are all human beings."

Just a bit goddam sad we find the need to say that out loud. Or even that we need to say it at all.

* Nothing has changed except, of course, our perception of the world. But confusing the change in one's perception of the world with concrete changes in one's day to day life -- or even confusing a change in one's perception of the world as a change in the state of the world itself, is a.) the basis for most American behaviour for the last four years and b.) in every other context, a sign of mental illness.


Sizemore said...

Hey John - Nice post.

Things are already getting back to normal over here. We tend to bounce back quickly.

Spent the early part of the day making sure Jess was safe and then helping to co-ordinate the blogging effort over on Londonist because we became something of a hub for news once the BBC websites started to load slowly due to the increased demand.

Pretty tired now, but looking forward to watching my city pick itself up and carry on doing its thing.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you're not Londoners.

You're a Londoner if you stand in the rain under a dark grey sky in the middle of what should be the summer.

You're a Londoner you get on a bus only to be told it's broken down and you have to get off again, only to find that the next two buses are full and won't take on any passengers.

You're a Londoner if you think that going to the pub or making a cup of tea is the definitive reaction to a major terrorist event.

And you're a Londoner if, every time you receive an e-mail of condolences from one of your American acquaintances, you think "how quaint", and then get straight back on the Underground.

Anonymous said...

Its just a comment indicating that we feel their pain....well some of us anyway. Its also what I expect politicians to say. It is what it is so lets move on as we know the real London folk will surely do so!

Anonymous said...

You're a Londoner you get on a bus only to be told it's broken down and you have to get off again, only to find that the next two buses are full and won't take on any passengers.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but this happens pretty damn regularly here in New York City, too. 8^)

Excellent post, by the way. I'm not a Londoner today, I do not feel London's pain...but London is in my thoughts. 'Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

Laurence Simon said it best: "We are all infidels. And deep in the heart of every true Muslim, one that follows the word of Allah as spoken by Muhammed to the letter, they want us dead or gone.

"It's the ones who don't follow the teachings strictly and have assimilated who show any sense of tolerance, understanding, or comprimise. They are the ones who we should tolerate.

"Because the hardcore ones want them dead too. Although if they side with them instead of us, we've got an even bigger problem."

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So they're the only true muslims? Uh-huh. Riiiight. Isn't that a bit like saying that the only true Christians are the ones who follow every crazy comment in Leviticus?

Three of the friends in London I was trying to check on during Thursday are muslims. So were some of the casualties, I'm sure - London's got a large muslim population, especially the East End. And, of course, there are the various speakers from mosques and the Muslim association of Britain who've been condemning this in no uncertain terms. By that logic, none of them are muslims either.

Don't dignify these bastards by saying they're the only true muslims. Because they're no such thing - and saying that insults everyone else who's following Islam.

Anonymous said...

1 year on & nothing's changed. The evil followers of the mad muller are still trying to take over the world. "OH we must not upset the muslims" is all we hear from the gov & the media. Well...bollocks to them all. We're gonna take our country back.

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