The news came through on my CNN blast on Saturday. Another terrorist attack in London. Another extremist using vehicles to evoke fear in the people of the U.K. and anyone visiting the country. Three men plowed into people on the London Bridge, then proceeded to stab innocent victims with knives. This is the third such attack in the country in the last three months. It’s enough to make anyone feel uneasy about the safety level in the U.K.
I have family in London and surrounding cities, and every time an alert comes out of Britain, I say a small prayer that none of my family members have been harmed. I’ve been fortunate so far that none of them were near the attacks. For those who have had someone injured or killed, my heart goes out to them. I cannot imagine what it’s like to lose someone you love, especially from the actions of violent extremists taking the lives of innocent people.
The threat levels in Europe are at an all time high. In fact, there have been reports that other terrorist attempts in the U.K. have been discovered and luckily foiled by authorities. However, the fact that people have easy access to propaganda online is disturbing, and it seems every attack spurs another person to act. They see a fellow extremist succeed, and they are emboldened to try. It’s enough to deter some people from venturing out of their comfort zones, causing them to cancel their travels, and stay home.
This summer, I have plans to visit three European countries, one of them being England. I’ll be in London for two days, and there’s a good chance I’ll be in one of these high risk zones prone to attack.
But it’s not stopping me from going. I’ll admit, I had a brief moment of fear when I heard about the recent incidents. I questioned my visit to London. But the moment was fleeting. If I change my plans because of what these extremists have done, then I’m giving them what they want. I’m succumbing to their scare tactics.
I will continue to travel. I will experience other cultures and traditions, expose myself to life outside the U.S. I’m a traveler, and staying away from certain countries because they might be dangerous is no way to see the world. I will not let these events faze me, change my way of life, alter my travel plans and the places I want to go.
Avoiding danger is not the answer, because eventually it catches up with all of us, even those who run from it. I’m not saying dash straight into the flames. Instead, lets do what we can to prevent the fire from starting in the first place. There are steps we can all take to stay safe. Be aware of your surroundings, report suspicious behavior and assess situations appropriately. Instead of hiding away, we have to guard and act against these attacks.
My thoughts were echoed in the latest episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. On the June 4 episode, John Oliver opened by sending his thoughts and prayers to London, and all those who lost someone they loved in the attacks. But before he got too sentimental, Oliver proceeded to call out U.S. media for the way the U.K. was portrayed in reports. They said the city was reeling, the country under siege.
Oliver states, “In no way is Britain under siege.” To say that, he says, is to imply that the country is weak and will allow the actions of three “assholes” to bring it to it’s knees. The whole segment concludes with a man who was at a bar that was attacked, stating that he’ll go back to the neighborhood, he’ll continue to live his life because that’s what makes London so great. It’s the best way to win, to beat these people.
(Warning: There is offensive language in the following clip.)
Even with the terror in the world, I will not stop exploring. Travel is a part of me, and if I stop being who I am, then they’ve won. I won’t give them that satisfaction, and I will go to London and enjoy the amazing city that it is!
[Travel Musings is a segment of my blog where I voice my opinions about travel, from industry trends and research to political and world issues affecting travel. I’d love to hear your thoughts, too.]