Frustrate them with your freedom


When news broke last week that ISIS is planning to hit popular European beach resorts this summer, I can’t have been the only person who sighed, and thought to myself “here we go”.
If you’re inclined to take notice of these things, the list of places you can go for a bit of sun, sea and sand is rapidly shrinking.

I haven’t booked a summer holiday yet, but I had been hoping to go somewhere warm and sunny after a disastrous week in wet and wild West Clare last year. Will I think twice about it? Well…

Last December, less than a month after the Paris terror attacks, I booked flights for my Dad and I to the French capital. We’d been talking for years about going to see the Somme, where my Grandad fought, and it was finally the right time. The attacks on Paris didn’t stop me – as far as I’m concerned, lightning doesn’t strike twice.

Sunset in Paris
Sunset in Paris

Between booking and travelling, the attacks on Brussels happened. I’ve been to both Paris and Brussels numerous times, but the Brussels attacks shook me, because so many people I know live and work there. The targeting of the airport bothered me. Maybe, I thought, they will start this at all the major European airports. Charles de Gaulle could well be next.

My Dad used to be a merchant seaman. Not only would any hint of reluctance to travel on the basis of some presumed increased risk have met with a ‘harrumph’ and eyes raised to heaven, but I think he’d have been disappointed in me. This is the man who went to the Gulf during the Gulf War because the money was better, who regularly travelled in some of the world’s most dangerous waters because it was his job, and whose attitude to life can best be summed up with that very ‘harrumph’.

I travelled, because, well… I had to. They don’t get to win. They don’t get to stop me and my Dad doing something we’ve always dreamed of. They don’t get to prevent us living. For us to stop living is what ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Quaida and all their brethren want most. And we can’t let that happen.

Since the ‘war on terror’ started – I’ll date it back to September 11th for convenience – there have been attacks by fundamentalist Islamists on some of our favourite holiday destinations. New York, London, Madrid, Paris, Australia, Brussels, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, India… the list goes on. When it comes to terrorism, African and Middle Eastern countries top the bill, with regular attacks that rarely make it into Western media. Move away from Islamists for just a moment and you face regular shootings throughout the US, terrorist activity in Thailand, and appallingly high murder rates in much of Central and South America.

Want to let ISIS win? Forget about that safari you always dreamed of, pull the plug on the Pyramids and put the Taj Mahal on the back boiler. Don’t risk the Eiffel Tower, don’t even dream of Delhi and just pretend you’ve never heard of the Statue of Liberty.

Or, take my Dad’s approach. Harrumph to the lot of them; get on with your life, and frustrate them with your freedom.

My Dad and I in Paris.
My Dad and I in Paris.

This post was published in The Herald, Friday 22 April.

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