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Of freedom and decadence: Look back without anger
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Of freedom and decadence: Look back without anger
By Kathleen McCann
The writer has been a member of God's Church since 1975. She lives in Milton Keynes with her husband, Lewis. Mrs. McCann receives mail at

MILTON KEYNES, England--The first intimation we had at home in Milton Keynes about the bombings in London on Thursday 7/7 was when my niece rang her grandmother to find out if we had heard from her brother. We had not.

Our nephew lives in the King's Cross area of London and is working there doing a summer job between semesters at university.

My husband, Lewis, sent him a text message, and fortunately he responded quickly, putting the family's mind at rest about his safety.

But many loved ones were lost, and the papers listed photographs of people who had not been seen or heard from since early that Thursday morning.

I have been moved to write my thoughts for The Journal by the picture that appears on the front page of The Times of London, Saturday, July 9, 2005.

We see a picture of dejection, a young woman about 20 years old. She sits on the pavement outside King's Cross Station, supporting her back on black railings. Upturned in one limp hand is a photo of herself and her boyfriend, who is missing. She wears a large anorak that could almost be her boyfriend's. Her eyes stare at the pavement, seeing only worry. Her lips are slightly parted.


Her despair reaches me as I imagine her asking: "Where is he? Has no one seen Jamie?"

At this writing the paper tells us bodies are still trapped in the underground train at King's Cross. Two days later the rescue services have still not removed the carriage from the underground, and it remains fixed in the tunnel with bodies still in situ.

Apparently they take so long to remove the carriage from the tunnel, not because it is too hard, but because modern forensic science dictates that they retrieve every scrap of evidence to enable them to hunt the terrorists. The length of time is also for the safety of the investigators and workmen.

What can we do?

Then the questions come to my mind. Can we really stop terrorism?

Matthew Parris, well-known commentator, tells us in The Times that "terrorism is not a body of men but a cloud of sympathies . . . It is a mood. It is evanescent. It can fade. It can spread."

We are filled with anger and righteous indignation. The cry goes up: "The British are resilient. We will not be terrorized. They will not change our way of life."

Queen Elizabeth is quick to give unifying moral leadership: "Atrocities such as these simply reinforce our sense of community, our humanity and our trust in the rule of law. That is the clear message from us all."

Will our resilience suffice to defy the terrorists? Will our anger meet theirs somewhere in the middle and create a peaceful settlement, or will mutual anger become a bloodbath?

Anger displaces judgment

Anger is such a powerful emotion that it overwhelms the mind. We lose reason and judgment. As we react and respond, we create a vortex of violence. In a short time we have forgotten what the original cause was, amidst claims and counterclaims.

Anger leads to polarization and extremism.

If we are to fulfill Christ's command to love our enemies, then we of all people must stand back from the vortex of anger and hatred.

What do they despise?

The British are not strangers to terrorism, having seen it in many struggles over the years. We know that people who strike at the established order often have a grievance that needs to be addressed, like British dominance in Ireland or India or white dominance in South Africa or Central Africa. Getting angry or self-righteous about it does not help anyone.

What do some Muslims (and by no means all) despise so much about the Western culture that they feel it needs to be destroyed?

Will we actually take a look at "our way of life"? We're predominantly Christian, hopefully, but are we really as Christian as we think we are?

What we see as freedom, they see as decadence.

The way we are

They don't see us the way we were 60 years ago, with the character to fight a war to liberate people from the oppression of those days. They see us the way we are today.

Certainly we need freedom to worship God, albeit people may worship in their own ways.

But what sort of freedom allows our women to wear very little clothing, divorce and remarriage to be a way of life, children not to know who their father is, and many unborn babies to be deliberately aborted every year?

How hard is it to cover our body out of respect for others? How difficult is it to build the family unit?

Many decent people in America and Britain today try to live as best they know how, but we need "to see ourselves as others see us" (quoting Robert Burns).

Looking back

Perhaps we should not look back in anger on terrorist activity, dreadful though it is, but with the humility to ask why we are increasingly despised in the world and increasingly the targets of simpler faiths.

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