Giving thanks in the middle of the disaster – London Bombings

I was struck today with a thought from the bible where we are urged to be “giving thanks always” (Eph 5:20) This evening, I asked myself what can we give thanks for today in the midst of the shock that terrorism brings to the city so close to my heart? Many of these things that I will list seem small, and for those who are suffering the pain of loosing loved ones will not take such pain away, but I will list them nonetheless

On a personal note I am thankful that my family survived intact. I am so glad to have been able to get safely to work on public transport, and in a borrowed car home again around the M25 in a little over three hours- many have been walking all day and are not yet home.

I also give thanks for the fact that this tragedy did not happen on a much larger scale. The death toll, currently 37 with 700 injured will sadly probably rise, but it is absolutely amazing that more did not die given the crowded state of rush hour trains. I give thanks for two remarkable coincidences which seem likely to have contributed to the survival of victims because these circumstances facilitated medical care getting to the victims quicker: Firstly, the bomb on a bus went off outside the headquarters of the British Medical Association where doctors were attending meetings and were able to attend victims immediately. Secondly, a meeting of trauma doctors just happened to be occuring at the Royal London Hospital which meant that 18 top trauma doctors could quickly be airlifted to the scenes of these disasters to treat patients who remained trapped.

I am grateful for the internet which enabled messages to reach loved ones when the phones werent working, and also facilitated a remarkable outporing of love and concern from my blogging buddies. I am especially grateful for the way the internet brings me together with people like PyroManiac with whom I shared some sweet fellowship just minutes before this terror struck. Our conversation was wide ranging and included our gratitude for the way blogging allows us to appreciate the strengths of people like the Internet Monk with whom we might not agree on everything. Indeed, whilst we did not dwell on it, I know that there are issues that Phil and I would disagree on, and the divisions of the church are such that there is no doubt in my mind we would not have met were it not for the web.

I am grateful for the fortitude of the emergency services. One little spoken of aspect of all this is the suspect packages which were being found all afternoon. Whilst every instinct must say get as far away as possible these people were putting their lives on the line. I was amazed and grateful for the quiet bravery of the BBC who continued to broadcast during a partial evacuation of their own building due to a bomb scare. The anouncer I was listening to quietly said that he was about to hand over the programme to another presenter who had moved to another studio further away from the windows. Indeed London as a whole quietly tried as best it could to get home, walking instead of the tube and patiently driving in terrible traffic for once just glad to be alive. I was also grateful for the leadership of the world community shown by Tony Blair. I felt proud as he read the statement on behalf of the G8 leaders, flanked by the most powerful men in the world. Somehow he seemed to have been born for such a moment. You might disagree with his policies, or even feel they have put us at more risk, but I have no doubt in my mind that right now he is doing the very best that he knows how for our nation, and in his roll of chair of G8 and the EU, the rest of the world.

Today should have been a day of great jubilation for London following the news of the olympics. It was not. But Londoners have been through this kind of thing before- I remember previous bombings only too well. We will persevere, nay flourish in the face of this latest opposition. As Tony Blair put it

It is important… that those engaged in terrorism realise that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire impose extremism on the world.

Whatever they do it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilised nations throughout the world.

I will give the last words to blogger Clagnut

So thanks then, terrorists. You’ve just succeeded in bringing the families of millions of Londoners that bit closer together, giving them an increased love of their city and an enhanced appreciation of their way of life. You might have destroyed the lives of several hundred people, but and this is stating the xxx obvious you xxxx you’ve achieved nothing.

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