The past few weeks have been a hideous time for Britain. Terrorists have attacked two of our cities. They have killed, injured and frightened us. And now it seems that they are dividing us. This is the time to stick together. There should be only two sides. The people who did this, and the rest of us standing united against them. There is no time for judgement.
Embrace our differences or we will never be united
When things like this happen, it is essential to remember that we all deal with things differently. Every time I look at social media I see another quote or meme telling me how I should react. Some say not to let them frighten us because we need to be strong. Others say not to change the way you live your life because that’s what they want. And another group tell us that they are afraid and they need to express that, because they care.
We all care. Every one of us has our own way of coping. Some take to social media to express their condolences or their fears. Others use it as a platform to share how they think we should deal with the current security situation. Some feel it is an appropriate time to raise their political agenda because they believe that the politicians they vote for will put this right. Still more just want to put one foot in front of the other and quietly keep on going. And that’s their prerogative, it’s how they cope.
And yet, a minority of people have turned towards hatred. There’s blame. Groups of our society are targeted because of their background, beliefs, religion or ethnic origin. Or because they are different. People like to have someone to blame when something goes wrong. It’s human nature, but this is not the time.
Save your judgement for a more appropriate time
The only people who are to blame here are the attackers and those who helped them or covered for them. This is not the fault of the police, the security services or the government. It is certainly not the responsibility of members of the population who identify with the same religion as the attackers. Or those who live on the same street, or who were born in the same country. Whether that country is Britain or elsewhere.
And neither should we judge people for the way they react to the attack. The fact that someone doesn’t express their feelings about it on social media doesn’t mean they don’t care. The same goes for whether they can talk about nothing else in conversation or prefer not to mention it. It is just the way they cope. The person who carries on tweeting cat gifs or posting to Facebook about work may be waiting anxiously for news of a loved one. So, they keep going. Quietly putting one foot in front of the other. Trying not to think about it. Don’t judge them.
The person who writes about their grief for their city, for their country is not furthering their own ends or belittling the atrocities. Writing is their coping mechanism. They don’t need your judgement, they need your support.
The British spirit
Blame is natural, judgement is natural but now is not the time. Now is the time to stand together and look for the good. In the lead up to the general election and with Brexit on the cards, we are politically divided. Terrorists are using this to drive us further apart and it’s working.
In the media there were photographs of people fleeing the terrorist incident crying and panicking. Because that is a natural human reaction. And then there was the iconic image of a man walking calmly away drinking his pint. Because we are British, and when things go wrong we carry on.
This is not the time for judgement. It is not the time for blame. Now is the time to embrace our differences and stand united.