It’s not the first time that the city I live in and love has been attacked – not even the first time since I have lived here. It’s not the worst attack we have ever experienced, and unless I had had the news on late last night, I would not have known about it, and I live about 2 miles from London Bridge – I can walk there in about half an hour.
When I say I wouldn’t have known about it, I mean that life around me, in the streets I walked down today, around the church, and in all the other places I need to be, are just as normal.
It’s not though,
There is something different today, just as there was after the last terror attack, on Westminster Bridge, and as (I guess) there will be after the next. It’s that sense of not being willing to be bullied.
It’s not that we’re not scared. We have to be, though it will fade in a few days, as things settle down.
It’s more that, being scared doesn’t get in the way.
I’m not brave. If anything, today, I am a bit weepy. But I have also been helped to work something out through a text exchange. I confessed to finding loving my enemy tough today. “Then stop” was the response.
And I have been thinking long and hard about that. I’m not finding it easy – and that’s the point. It’s like those ordination and wedding vows; it only matters when it is hard. And nothing will change if I (or others – it’s not all on me, I know that!) only love enemies when it doesn’t really make any difference to the way I live or act.
The ability to drive a van at a crowd, or dash at strangers with a knife must surely come from the capacity not to see them as people.
And if I am going to love my enemy, it has to start with refusing to see them as not-people.
They were wrong. What they did was evil. Those who resisted, who dealt with the aftermath, who put themselves in danger to prevent others being killed are heroes.
But I cannot, must not, dare not see those three men as somehow less human than me, than their victims, than the heroes of police and medics.
I’m not sure I know how to do that.
So, my prayer which I have been offering for those affected, and those afraid, must now also be a prayer for them – and for me.