What can we, as young people, do in the face of the many terror attacks occurring in Europe? As Kerry Mahony writes, exactly what we've always done.
The world we live in is a scary place.
It seems like every day we are waking up to horror stories. Terrorist attacks are becoming increasingly frequent and seem to be occurring closer to home. In recent weeks, England, one of our closest neighbours, was struck by two terrifying incidents; the attacks on London Bridge and the bombing at Ariana Grande’s Manchester Arena concert.
When we hear these stories every, it is difficult to not become disheartened. There is a danger of us, as a society, retaliating with anger and violence. However, it is imperative that we do not let hatred win.
There is a quote from television host Mr. Rogers that is often brought up during the aftermath of these kind of attacks. He spoke of being a young boy and seeing horrific tragedies on the news. Seeking comfort from his mother, she would tell him to “look for the helpers.”
We can definitely apply Mr. Rogers’ words of wisdom to recent events. Following the Manchester bombing, an interview with a homeless man who was a first responder at the scene went viral. 33-year-old Stephen Jones, who often begged for money outside the arena, was lauded as a hero after he helped the young victims, treating their injuries and assisting them until the emergency services arrived. The video of Jones touched the world and people rallied together to repay the man for his courageous deed. Now, four weeks later, he has been offered a place to live and £31,562 in donations has been raised on a JustGiving page.
Similarly, after the attack on London on the 3rd of June, we read about Roy Larner. The 47-year-old Millwall supporter was stabbed eight times by terrorists in a restaurant in Borough Market. Incredibly, Larner fought back, charging at the terrorists in an attempt to stop them from creating even more casualties. In times of such sadness, these stories are uplifting and comforting. They help to restore our faith in humanity; to reassure us that even though these tragedies happen, there will always be selfless people risking their lives to help others. That, in itself, is a beautiful thing.
Yet, what do terror attacks mean for students? Every year, thousands of young Irish people move abroad to study under programmes such as Erasmus. Interrailing is becoming a hugely popular option for students wanting to travel during the summer. Travelling abroad is not without risk, and in times like these, we are forced to think of the possible ramifications of going to European countries when events like these are sadly becoming more frequent.
As we have unfortunately seen with England, you cannot guarantee that one country will ever be a hundred percent safe. Does this mean we should live in fear, wrap ourselves up in bubble wrap, and hide inside for the rest of our lives? Absolutely not.
As young people, we need to be strong. The future of the world depends on how we react to these atrocities – if we choose to retaliate, we could face a potential war and lose more lives. In times of darkness we should seek inspiration from the brave people we saw in London and Manchester.
So, although the world can seem scary, it is crucial that we do not let fear consume us. We need to support each other, to spread love and to welcome, not ostracise, those who are different than us. We must educate and travel and do all the things we would usually do. History has seen many tragedies like this; and although they are always heart-breaking, people managed to rebuild and come back stronger. The world never stopped turning. We must keep moving.