Manchester, London, Paris, Nice, Berlin, Stockholm, Oslo… all cities whose names have acquired an added, and unfortunate, resonance thanks to terrorist acts in recent times.
The attack on the Finsbury Park Mosque in London this week, and the shooting involving a Republican congressional baseball practice in Alexandra, Va. last week – let alone a staggering list of incidents, nations and causes inspiring terrorist acts around the world in 2017 alone – give the lie to the notion that terrorism is the exclusive territory of any one set of political or religious beliefs.
Sadly, wherever you venture, you will find people who believe that some ‘end’ justifies a ‘means’ that usually involves an attack on the innocent. We now have generations of young travellers whose views of the world have largely been established in a post-9-11 reality. They – and their loved ones – have had to come to terms with the unavoidable conclusion that there is no such thing as a ‘safe place’ in the world anymore.
Time was, one could pinpoint hot spots of bloodshed and war around the globe, and counsel giving them a wide berth.
Today, given the multiplicity of motivations for acts of violence – many of them rooted more in mental illness than in any cogent worldview – there are no places where we can shield our younger generations from threat.
As Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff said – referring to the death of former resident Christine Archibald, killed in the London Bridge van attack 2½ weeks ago – “evil knows no boundaries… heinous crimes committed across the world can impact a family and our community.”
But while we may be thinking once, twice – maybe three times – before visiting one of those cities touched by violence, the reality is that travel continues as people defiantly celebrate the natural and artistic wonders of the world, emphasizing by their actions positive exchanges between cultures and the value of kindness and empathy in the face of raw hate.
Few exemplified that more than Archibald, who believed strongly that every individual was worthy of value and respect.
It is heartening to see that an international Twitter campaign inspired by her family’s plea to honour her memory by making a positive contribution to our communities – represented by the hashtag #chrisssentme – has found resonance, and an outpouring of support, from ordinary people around the world.