The drive for me to write Matt’s tale essentially began on 7/7/2005 when the bombs went off around London, which led to a chance encounter and a discussion about appreciating others and being able to enjoy a good conversation – and perhaps how much value can be gained for building a good relationship from simply sharing a story to entertain as much as inform or educate.
This was in stark contrast to the disastrous events of that day – but then maybe not, given those events occurred due to a few people having so little care at all for others that they felt they could take their lives without any understanding whatsoever about what their victims believed in – including whether those innocents might have had some sympathy for their cause, if only they were given a chance to hear about it and discuss why there is a need for violence against them in order to be heard.
So it is perhaps poignant that this penultimate blog post of Matt’s Tale is written and published on 9th September, 2011 – the tenth anniversary of “9/11” – when ordinary people were united, in adversity, in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania as a result of a horrific catastrophe arising from a group’s desire to take not only their own lives but thousands of others in the name of a cause that many will never understand or appreciate.
The stories told of the heroism on that day, from the firefighters on the ground in New York to the passengers on the flight that overcame the hijackers, are what I believe help us to cope with the enormity of the horror of it – and tell us about how we should feel and respond to such terror. Saying nothing at all, and seeking to take violent revenge against people who most likely have had nothing to do with any wrongs done – perceived or otherwise – can never be accepted, as that is what I believe makes for the DNA of a terrorist or vigilante.
Although it is only one man who was a victim of such terror, there is perhaps a similar connection with the people coming together on the pilgrimages to Canterbury, in recognising how unfair it was for anyone – let alone knights of the realm – to take a man’s life for simply standing up for his beliefs, and irrespective of whether the knights’ cause in supporting the king and his constitution was right or not in seeking to exert one rule of law across the land. At least in medieval times, the king was ultimately made to feel remorse for what happened there in Canterbury Cathedral that day in 1170, where Thomas a Beckett was murdered for refusing to concede to the king’s cause.
However such remorse is not shown today, where the leaders of the Al Qaeda cause that drove their followers to undertake such barbaric acts, showed none whatsoever for all of the innocent lives being taken. It is also perverse that their idea of a martyr is/was one who takes the lives of others, instead of being one prepared to give up their life – without harming others – so that others can live in freedom from hunger, poverty or oppression.
So let’s hope in the wake of such oppressors and their horrors, including what we have just experienced in London, Birmingham and elsewhere in the UK with the riots, that we can find a way to reach a greater understanding and respect for one another, as well as rise above these acts of terror and violence to find ways to mete out justice rather than vengeance. At the very least, we need to let people not be afraid to tell their stories or otherwise listen with care and respect to the stories of others.
Certainly I am grateful now for having taken this road at the start of June for helping to appreciate such things (even if it is only in reading up and writing up afterwards). It is this that has helped me to understand and cope with not only living through the London riots that have followed, and awareness of the possible effects of another recession even worse than the first one, but also understand and care about what I am hearing and experiencing about how some people are being treated in the workplace now that is not right or fair – and perhaps may need to told and talked about soon before it is too late for them and the businesses themselves that are being adversely impacted by it.