“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”
C. S. Lewis, A grief observed
Not in the name of anyone.
I remember it as clear as daylight, it was the summer of 1997. ETA kidnapped a young politician, Miguel Angel Blanco and threatened to kill him unless the Spanish government started to transfer all the ETA prisoners to jails in the Basque Country within 48 hours. The whole of the country was on standby. We all took to the streets demanding and also praying for his release. Not even an hour after the deadline expired he was shot in the back of the head. Fighting for his life, the terrorists abandoned him just outside San Sebastian with his hands tied. Miguel Angel died in hospital. He was only 29. His murder was a milestone in Spanish society. We took to the streets with tears in our eyes but with a determination to see the end of decades of terror. Such was the cold blood and the cruelty of his death that even some voices within ETA started to condemn the attack. Our young democracy stood on its feet and with the help of antiterrorism associations and the bravery of the citizens who had finally had enough, it was the beginning of the end for ETA, only this year they fully disarmed leaving behind more than 800 hundreds deaths and scars for the Spanish people that will never heal.
I was thinking about ETA while watching the news because as hard, cruel and inhumane their actions were, you kind of managed to explain what they wanted, who they were, what they were killing for. The same happened with the IRA I suppose but these latest barbaric attacks are well and truly out of reach to understand or grasp. What can you say when something like the Manchester attack happens? How can you explain the reason behind the utter madness and cruelty? How can you comfort the pain of those who have lost their loved ones? How can you stop the tears from falling thinking about those kids who were just having fun? You simply can’t. We have confronted terrorism before but this kind of attack comes from a hate within never seen before. No morals, no consideration for who are the victims, a complete disregard for human life. Just the blind conviction to hurt people as much as possible regardless of who they might be. It is that ability of showing a lack of empathy with life not even their own that it is so scary. Whatever these heartless assassins have been promised in their afterlife I really hope they do not get it. Only the endless guilt of knowing that their actions achieved nothing but pain and grief.
My thoughts are with the families and friends of all the Manchester victims. It is time now to deal with the pain we are all feeling and stand proud of our values and our democracy. Diversity in our societies must be celebrated and cherished and all efforts must be produced by our politicians in order to help with integration. We cannot defeat this monster alone but at least we can all try together. If they want to terrorise us they won’t. I do not ask for simple folks like us to be heroes, but at least we can try to not let fear rule our lives. Even if it is normal to be scared. I will leave you today with something from George Orwell’s visionary book 1984 “The object of terrorism is terrorism. The object of oppression is oppression. The object of torture is torture. The object of murder is murder. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?” Hasta la proxima amigos.