Just a short few years ago I would roam around the city of London, shopping, flirting with boys and having little adventures exploring the history of our great capital. It would have never occurred to me that there may be a threat to my life whilst doing this.
When I was a teenager my friends and I would go multiple times a year to music events around the country. We would convince our parents to let us queue all day for entrance so that we could be front and centre. It was always our aim to get “barrier” and not once did it cross our minds that being there may lead to us being trapped against a metal barricade with no way of escaping.
When I was younger my mother would take me to concerts. Party in the park, Disney on Ice, maybe even Boyzone if I had really pestered her. Not at any of those events would my mother have been looking around her, checking for suspicious behaviour and NEVER would she have thought that we might not have come home that evening.
Up until recently when we watched the news it was rare that there was any mention of the word “terrorism” and when there was it was nearly never on our doorsteps. It was always somewhere else, to someone else. They were branded as one off lone wolves and we considered ourselves to be safe. We carried on as normal.
In truth it will never be the time for us to stop doing these things. There should never be a time when we should not continue to enjoy the lives that we have been given. We should never allow the events of the past year to stop us from leaving our houses, to stop us from going for a meal with family, drinks with friends or days out with our children. But carry on as normal? We no longer can.
It is time for us to truly unite and fight against this together. We need to forget about our cultural, economical, religious or political differences and stand together as a country, as a nation and as people of the same earth, for this cannot continue. We cannot and should not simply ignore what is happening.
Be vigilant – or better yet be observant. You might notice the children running happily down the street. You might see a dog enjoying his daily walk and the look on his face when he spots a squirrel. You may notice the beauty of a new or old building, or the smiles on peoples faces as they walk past you, but you may also notice something that is not quite right. If you do – REPORT IT.
If you see someone acting suspiciously, don’t simply walk in the opposite direction – REPORT IT.
If you see something out of place in a crowded area – REPORT IT.
If you see something online, don’t assume it’s being dealt with – REPORT IT.
But most importantly – BE KIND AND RESPECTFUL. To your neighbour. To the man or woman on the street. To the stranger on the internet. To the grieving families. To the emergency services who protect us and run towards danger. To your fellow humans. It will cost you absolutely nothing.
And always remember – TOMORROW ISN’T A GUARANTEE. It never has been. So spend time with your loved ones, make memories, do what you love, don’t put off doing that thing you’ve always wanted, get off your phones every once in a while and truly enjoy what you have been given.
Show them that we cannot be beaten.