It is a little disconcerting when three bombs go off in an airport just two hours before you leave for a night and day’s flying. Janice was offered to go to Kampala with Turkish Air and didn’t take up the offer for safety reasons. Twelve hours after the Istanbul Attacks we were walking through Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.
I was reflective and somber as I walked the distance from our Arrival gate to our Departure Gate. I was aware that people were doing this very thing just the night before and were blown out of this life. I said quiet prayers for the devastated families of the dead, the injured, Istanbul and Turkey as they deal with this horrendous event and all of us as we live in the face of this kind of threat, even walking through an airport!
Tomorrow we remember 100 years to the day from the beginning of The Battle of The Somme. We saw many Northern Irish in Dublin Airport making their journey to remember at Memorial Services in Frnace. War then was fought in fields. It was bloody and horrible. Many young lives were lost to families and nations. BUT the war raged in war zones, not in airports, or restaurants or music halls.
This is a new kind of war and we need to be more alert, not that actually we any longer can be alert enough. We also need to wage peace and find those ways that are becoming my mantra, to be imaginative, creative and compassionate.
Two immediate ways that I thought of to wage peace: -
Firstly, let us take Istanbul as seriously as Paris. We all changed our Facebook profile pictures to the French flag. We stood with Paris with our Eiffel Towers and peace signs. We need to be careful that we do not see this murderous act as any less important because the victims have names like Muhammed and Yusef. The IS terrorism is an act against humanity and we need to stand with victims whether they are in Turkey, Nigeria, Kenya or wherever.
Secondly, it was not lost on me that on the same day that the Istanbul bombing was in the news, the same news was filled with a fresh increase in racism being reported across Northern Ireland and the UK. This is the same root sin that causes extremists to blow themselves up and kill innocent people. Whether it is abuse shouted at foreign medical staff in our hospitals or swastikas dubbed on people’s houses, we need to stand against such ignorant racism in our society. We need to wage peace!
As I reflected on this increase in racism at home, I am praying that the Brexit vote is not for some sections in our country a mandate to be racist. I am praying that some don’t think that the Leave victory is a mandate to oust all foreign nationals from our nation or even those who have been British for generations even if they have different coloured skin, race or religion. I am fearful that this is another effect of the Brexit vote.
So, let us gird our hearts and souls and wage peace - with imagination, creativity and compassion!
Stockman is Surmising from the appropriately named Shalom Guest House in Kampala, Uganda.