As the horrific story unfolded on Thursday evening from Barcelona, I felt the familiar pang of sadness that I can only say we have all become too accustomed to. Glued to the news from the moment the story broke, I silently prayed they would catch the cowards responsible and waited anxiously for the death toll to be announced. My heart broke for my favourite European city & its people.
I have spent this year travelling and blogging about my journeys, always aiming to keep my messages positive. In fairness, it hasn’t been too difficult so far, I have been lucky with very few bad experiences while away. However, one thing I have never spoken openly about is the background nervousness I feel before and even during every trip. Not because I’m afraid of flying or of new places, but because of the threat we are all facing now. The threat of terror while travelling is a very real part of the package.
Six of the cities I have been to this year have suffered terror attacks in the last number of years. Two of these awful events have happened only in the last couple of months. It is something that sits in the back of my mind no matter where I go, a voice that tells me always to be on guard. I am afraid and I have to force myself not to give in to these fears on a regular basis. I will be honest, I have considered cancelling many of my trips this year, and every time I get home I thank god (or whoever is listening) that I made it back safely.
But what is the alternative? Stay indoors and never leave our homes? Never travel and share the wonderful world that we all live in together? I have heard it some many times about not letting them win, about how we have to keep going and fight back in our own way against terror. And for a long time, I didn’t really understand or think it was possible. I thought to myself “Of course they win, people are scared“. But if there is one thing that has given me peace, it is realising that this is as much as they will ever get from us. They may be able to scare us but they can NEVER stop us. We must not allow them to.
I never thought I would blog about this, it didn’t seem right because who am I? I don’t know the ins and outs of everything that’s happening in the world. I am not a journalist who has been assigned the topic. And I have been fortunate not to have been the victim of an attack. But I have been thinking about it so much lately, it feels so close to home. My heart goes out to every single city and person who has been affected. I have cried for Manchester. All these years later, when I visited ground zero, I cried for New York. And now I cry for Barcelona.
But there is light, amongst the sadness and fear that has been caused, WE stand against terror together. I choose to never allow these little men and women to rule over my life. I will continue to travel and never stop for one second out of fear of them. I will go back to Barcelona and I will walk along La Rambla as I have done many times before. In the words of the great Martin Luther King “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”. Today I smile in the face of the cowards who think they can stop us from living and loving the world we call home. There is no option but to stand together in strength and love. Let us all choose to do so.
Written with love,