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London living: The culture of blame

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By Bronwen Foster-Butler

Terrorists strive to create a culture of Fear. They want to transform our privileged Western lives into lives spent petrified and suspicious. I live in a city that, as of July 7 th 2005, has become a war zone. However, instead of my life being transformed into one of nervousness and worry, it is one of speculation and political questioning. I still take the tube and bus to work; I still have friends regardless of their religious beliefs, and I still aim to treat all strangers as equals. The only difference in my life is that I am now spending my idle thoughts searching for someone to blame. Someone other than myself.

Sound confusing? Each and every morning I wake up assuming to hear the worst – that another bomb has gone off, that another tube has crashed or bus exploded, or even worse, that the police have gunned down another innocent. I am a Whistlerite who has, for cultural and financial reasons, been temporarily transported over the pond to live in the big smoke: London, England. I came here to experience the perpetuity of life; the cross-section of humanity who reside here and the inspiring action that makes each and every day different.

When I arrived the city itself was alive; it was crawling with excitement. As those who were in Whistler in the summer of 2003 remember, a city bidding for the Olympic Games shows off its best colours for everyone to see. Like a peacock, we strutted around, proud of our feathers and our distinctive markings. Summer was just starting, vacations were being planned and pub gardens were overflowing with faces and stories. On July 6 th we were awarded the 2012 summer Olympic Games. London was thriving.

The very next day, our glory and celebrations were cut short. To live in a city under attack is like no other experience. Although the death count was relatively low considering the total population of London and the potential devastation, even a single death by a terrorist affects everyone still living. Regardless of our political or religious beliefs, we are all changed. I drove into the city that night and saw a ghost town; instead of being stuck in crowds and traffic, cement barriers, barren streets and heavily armed policemen delayed me. Our lives had come to a halt.

But not for long. Over the following week, throughout all the press conferences, public speculation and political mumbo-jumbo that bombarded the media, one message came through the strongest. We were not afraid. Londoners, determined not to let the terrorists win, fought back with our own weapons: words, art, music and passion. The pubs were still full, the buses still ran and the tube was still a little bit late. We were not a culture of fear – that was easy to see, nevertheless there was still tension in the air.

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