You find yourself disintegratingThe distinguished British journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in today’s Independent newspaper (entire article sadly not available free on line) says what I am thinking better than I ever could – and more besides, which, as I’m not a Muslim, I can only feel for her, not with her: “By eleven-thirty I had buried my head under pillows to stop the noise of the telephones and faxes, all asking for interviews. Shaking, feeling cold and overwrought, I had nothing to say to those who would ask me what I thought of these atrocities and why Muslims did such things and whether we Muslims condemned such actions… Every time these dreaded events occur, you find yourself disintegrating, one part deep human compassion for the victims and their families, another calling you to the truth that our governments too shed blood for no good reason and create conditions for hate to infect life.
Yet another part reminds you that all lives are of equal value and that the pain we feel on behalf of our own citizens is not a licence for cruel revenge. My city, my faith, my city, my faith, I love them both, both traumatised, both abused. Where to turn?
How do I know why they do what they do? The majority of Muslims are appalled and confounded by such pitiless zealotry. We don’t know what they want, these brigands. If it is al-Qa’ida again, yes there will be jubilation in their twisted little cells, bearded macho satisfaction that they have caused havoc in such a place. Beyond that, I doubt that they know what they do and how their actions cause ever more suffering to innocent people, including other Muslims…
If this was the work of true Muslim jihadis, what did they achieve yesterday? They have shattered the focus on Africa and the fight against poverty. Muslims are among the most deprived people in the world. They have given Tony Blair his ID card and further authoritarian power to bypass the rule of law…”
As I read her article, I start to cry the tears held rigidly behind my eyes since yesterday. Oh dear, there’s a man sitting diagonally opposite me at the café table. How embarrassing. Oh, he’s blind. If I don’t sniff too loudly he won’t know. Well, everything is surreal today. I don’t know about the ‘British way of life’. We’d be better, I think, with a little less of the British stiff upper lip. Better if we cried more.
¶ 4:16 pm
Dear Jean, I cry with you inwardly and without. But I gather hope and strength from articles like the one you share here, as well as from your compassionate soul. It takes real courage to remember someone like Yasmin Alibhai-Brown at times like these.
Yes, there is much to weep about and thank goodness we do.
I spent yesterday in front of the TV awaiting more news. This morning I went to Tesco to do my usual Friday shopping... but once inside the shop I was confronted by the front pages of our daily newspapers. I broke down sobbing in the aisle. The only paper I picked up was the Independent and read her article once I was home.... she says it all, really.
After 9-11, I cried off and on for weeks. I didn't know anyone who was killed or injured; the horror of it all just kept rising to the surface. You might feel the same for a while. God Bless you and everyone across the pond.
Yes, don't overlook the fact of your physical proximity to the happenings on Thursday, Jean. That counts for a lot. Don't be alarmed if it comes out over the next days and weeks.
I don't cry easily, but I had a lump in my throat and watery eyes yesterday during the interview on TV yesterday with the East London Muslim family whose daughter is missing. If I'd needed reminding, it brought home to me how senseless and wicked all this is.
Yasmin A-B always speaks up eloquently, truthfully and from the heart. Several times I've been so moved by her words that I've written to tell her so. I wish she was Prime Minister though she's probably too honest to be a politician. Jean, your tears are eloquent too and shouldn't be hidden.
A belated note to let you know I've been thinking of you. Yes, we all would be better if we would weep more. I'm grateful for your sensitivity and sympathy. Thank you for sharing with us. Peace and comfort - a hug to you - across the miles.
Jean, I think it's natural to feel everything you've described: numbness, disbelief, confusion, and tears... Give yourself the space to feel it. It may take turning off the news for a time to let your thoughts settle. Whatever you do, take care of yourself. We're thinking of you.
I too quietly freaked out as the New York tragedy turned into the idiocy of spreading war. I still cannot allow myself to think too much, or read too much, lest I not be able to get out of bed in the morning. When you have had all you can take, it is ok to withdraw to a safe distance.
First Rule of water safety, make sure you are stable first, or you just wind up with two stiffs in the water.
Evil exists everywhere regardless of race and creed - even in the smallest, prettiest country village. Most people are decent human beings. Crying is good. I wish it were easier for men. I spoke to my son who works in London after the bombing and I could tell from his voice what he was feeling - he lost a colleague but "men don't cry."