The Surprise We Expected
Ian McEwan has a very good Op-Ed piece in today’s New York Times about yesterday’s terrorist bombings in London.
I particularly liked this section of his piece:
In fact, now the disaster was upon us, it had an air of weary
inevitability, and it looked familiar, as though it happened long ago.
In the drizzle and dim light, the police lines, the emergency vehicles,
the silent passers-by appeared as though in an old newsreel film in
black and white. The news of the successful Olympic bid was more
surprising than this. How could we have forgotten that this was always
going to happen?
The mood on the streets was of numb acceptance,
or strange calm. People obediently shuffled this way and that, directed
round road blocks by a whole new citizens’ army of "support" officials
– like air raid wardens from the last war. A man in a suit pulled a
fluorescent jacket out of his briefcase and began directing traffic
with snappy expertise. A woman, with blood covering her face and neck,
who had come from the Russell Square tube station, briskly refused
offers of help and said she had to get to work. Groups gathered
impassively in the road, among the gridlocked traffic, listening
through open windows to car radios.
How could we have forgotten that this was always going to happen?
I rode the subways in NYC yesterday downtown, then back uptown, then out to Queens. They were teaming with police, but they aren’t always teaming with police. Just in the wake of London, or Madrid, or some other terrorist attack.
I believe that slowly, but surely, we (meaning the civlized world) are accepting this as the new normal. Bombings will happen. People will die. But we will go on.
And when the terrorists realize that all their maiming, killing, bombing, and destruction is not doing anything, not even a little bit, to change our way of life, maybe then they’ll realize the folly of their ways.
I am not going to change my routine one iota and haven’t since 9/11 and I never will. It appears to me that most of the civilized world has decided to do the same.