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.