peace in regents park on 7/7 2006

It is already 2 years today since the bombings in London on 7th July 2005. The picture above shows the peace flower created on the first anniversary of 7/7 last year in Regents Park.

As we today remember those killed and injured on that fateful day, it is heart breaking to know that the same thing could have happened only last week in London and Glasgow airport.

So where do we go from here? On 7/7 two years ago, I wrote and sent out my regular newsletter – and I feel that my message is as relevant today as it was then. Here is what wrote then in full:-

“I am writing these words to you with a heavy heart on a terrible day in London. What can one say on a day like this? Indeed, even the title of my newsletter seems incongruous and hollow after a day of death and destruction.

The day has been a haze as the horrific news of the bombings, deaths & casualties has filtered through. As the lives of many Londoners are changed forever, the euphoria of having “won” the 2012 Olympics is a distant and almost meaningless memory.

Shock, sadness and sheer helplessness engulf us in the face of such mindless carnage. Such a day will have a huge impact on our lives for years to come.

But what is to come out from this and what hope do we have for us as a race?

What light is there in this darkness?

What sort of a vision do we have for the future and what legacy do we want to leave behind for the generations of children to come?

Prayers for those affected

Our prayers are today with the families and friends of the bereaved and of those injured and traumatised.

Amidst such sadness and confusion, it has been heart warming to receive numerous calls and tesxt messages from friends, some getting in touch after a while. The tragedy has drawn a huge comforting blanket of compassion and support all around us as people are actually making contact with forgotten friends and acquaintances. And therein lies a huge clue to just what compassion and love we as a human race are capable of.

The courage shown by those injured and the camaraderie they shared with their fellow injured victims also shows us just what we are capable of. As stories of what happened unfold, heart-warming tales of heroes will emerge in the coming days. Again these reports will show us just what heights of nobility, self-lessness and courage we are capable off.

It seems to take a major incident like the bombings today, a Tsunami or a 9/11 to bring us closer together as human beings. Yet that compassion is always there, but dormant as we go through our busy lives focused on our everyday needs and challenges.

My relief at hearing about their well being from friends who would normally be traveling in London this morning has been clouded by the despair and pain of all those people who were affected. There is also a dreadful and heavy feeling that there will inevitably be a few people I personally know who will have been affected.

Today has made it clear to us just how fragile and tenuous our lives are and how helpless we can be. Many people avoided being affected due to a last minute change of plans whilst others were caught up purely by chance. Close to home, my older sister would normally have been arriving at Kings Cross Station around 9am this morning, just about the time one of the bombs went off. But she decided to take the day off and avoided who knows what fate…

It is on such chance decisions that our lives are shaped and for many this will have led to sheer despair today. For others, it is a heaven sent opportunity to take this as an omen and perhaps take on a new way of being.

I have already heard from friends travelling in London who were only minutes away from being on the affected trains. How finely poised and vulnerable our lives are nowadays has become so clear today.

The tragedy is that this travesty has happened so soon after the worldwide success and euphoria of the Live8 concerts. It seemed that just as the world was finally waking up to its responsibility to erasing poverty, our worst fears of an attack on our capital city have been fulfilled. Just as the G8 summit begins, the focus has switched to terrorism. Where there was hope of life-changing concessions, we now have the spectre of further mayhem, murder and grief.

But what happens hereon? Do we become embroiled in an endless and ultimately futile round of revenge and recriminations? Or do we, without condoning the terrorists in any way, learn what we can do and change our ways collectively, so that we do not degenerate into a self-destructive spiral?

As the sheer horror and sadness of what has happened in London hits us, it also makes us realise just what sort of terror is faced on a daily basis by millions of people around the world in places from Beirut to Baghdad where such attacks have become a sad feature of daily life.

As a race, it is our joint responsibility to accept that the world as it is today is simply not working, and do everything we can to change it for the better, from ending poverty, ceasing wars and ensuring justice for all.

My vision for the future:-

My vision is that one day generations of children to come will ask their parents if something called “war” ever existed. They will wonder if people really did blow each other up in cold blood, and how humans ever let that happen in the first place. They will also ask if children really died due to a lack of food.

I believe that it is such a vision that we must ultimately strive for as we face the coming days of grief, sadness, anger and possible further recriminations.

Call me naive, but to live with such hope is perhaps the only way forward, since “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”. I believe it was Gandhi who said this and in these troubled times his words, wisdom and inspiration are needed more than ever.

Gandhi 140 years young

Today on the day of the London bombings, I was working with a group of multi cultural school children in Birmingham, 120 miles away. As news of the horror of what was happening just half a mile from my home in London began to filter through, my thoughts were with the young 15 year olds around me. Just what sort of legacy are we building for them?

Their aspiration and desire for a better future were in sharp contrast with the reality of events unfolding only a 2-hour drive away. As these children prepared to do a business presentation to a live audience for the first time ever in their young lives, their apparent innocence about the world out there was heart breaking as well as endearing. But it is this very innocence that gives me hope that all is not lost and we can indeed build a better world for them. It is our responsibility and we owe it to future generations.

And it is up to all of us to begin to do just that from this very day. As we come to terms to what has happened on our doorsteps, we can choose how we will live our lives from hereon. We can indeed make this a better world for all of us and the generations to come if we really put our minds and hearts to it.

So to end, I ask each of you to review your lives in the coming days. Go through the grieving and soul searching we will all need. Continue to take all sensible precautions and take time to come to terms with what has happened. But resolve to not give up hope or become embittered. Then commit to making the world a better place in whatever way feels right for you – small or big. And then of course do it.

As Gandhi also said, be the change that you want the world to be. Bring peace and love into the world in everyway you can. And start with yourself first.

Recently, there were posters of Nelson Mandela plastered all around London promoting the “Make Poverty History” campaign. The slogan on these posters implored a generation to claim its greatness – and the time has indeed come for us to stake our greatness.

And one day, a generation of children to come will indeed ask their parents if war and starvation ever even existed.

I wish you well in the coming days.

With love.

Arvind”

peace in regents park on 7/7 2006

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