We live in what can only be described as troubled times. Uncertainties and fear are a relatively new but persistent feature in most of our lives. In a few short months, three of the cities that are special to me – Moscow, the city where I was born; Stockholm, where I grew up; and London, where I have lived for the last four years – were all hit by terror attacks. These premeditated, cold-hearted attacks did more than “just” take lives. They filled the hearts and minds of the inhabitants of the cities with fear. Over these last few weeks, I’ve seen my friends get anxious over taking the Tube, of going to public events, and of travelling. Fear might always have been all around – but now, it’s much more evident than before.
And fear takes many forms. One of its ugliest shapes is the mutation into hate. It saddens my heart to see how many people descend into the nasty depth of ignorant hate as a way of coping with the fear that is subtly creeping into our daily lives. There are many coping mechanisms that might feel like they are helping, but trust me, this one is not. Instead of defiantly standing united, which would really shatter terror, some people choose ignorance, hatred and racism. Because it is a choice. It’s not something you are “driven” to by circumstance. It’s something you choose. Life is not what happens to you, it’s how you react to what happens to you.
This is one of many reasons why I am so proud to be an adopted resident of London and Brighton. Multi-cultural cities with tolerance ingrained in their DNA. Cities with a heart that will never be broken and a spirit that stands stronger than ever. Places where there is no “them”, only “us”. Places where hate does not stand a chance. And I’m not only talking about the kind of hate that grabs a gun or drives a van into a crowd. I’m also talking about the kind of hate that hides cowardly behind a keyboard and populates the kind of websites I prefer not to know the names of. The kind of hate that starts with, “I’m not racist, but…”
When I see things like this and this, it fills my heart with joy. There is no stronger way of standing up to terror than by saying “we refuse to be terrorised”. All of us, together, uniting in a powerful refusal of fear. Living our lives as we always have: taking the Tube, opening our shops for business in the mornings, going to concerts, taking planes. And above all, keeping our hearts open. Keeping our minds open. That is the ultimate rebellion against fear. Because the sense of terrorism is to spread fear, and if we refuse to be afraid, terrorism will never win. It will just keep losing and losing, until it is extinguished.
This month I am watching...Falling Skies on Netflix. Even if, like me, you are not a sci-fi fan, still give it a shot. It’s addictive.
This month I am reading…Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
This month I am listening to…Heaven in this Hell by Orianthi
This month I am planning…my holiday in Alicante, Spain