A brush with bombs in London

My last day in London, July 7, just happened to be the same as the first day of the G8 Summit. Neither my day nor the Summit's has gone according to plan.

My plan was to go to the Ravenscourt Park station, get on the Underground and get off at the Russell Square station. I was looking forward to a second visit to the British Museum since my first one was much too short.

However, I slept in a bit and dilly dallied around taking a bath, doing my e-mail and typing the order of service for Sunday at the Rainier Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation: I'm going to be the jet lagged service leader at Evensong.

When I finally got to the Ravenscourt Park station, the gates were locked. There was a notice scribbled in crayon that the Underground was closed due to a "security alert" and advised people to take buses. So I went to the nearest bus stop and asked a man what buses I would need to take to get to Russell Square.

"Madame, you cannot go to Russell Square this morning," he asserted. "That's in Central London. There are bombs going off all over Central London."

So I went back to my friend Dana's apartment and turned on the television. The moment I turned it on they happened to be interviewing a man who had just come up out of the Russell Square station, the very one where I had been headed. The man said there were still lots of injured people down there.

So, if you have internalized a belief in the fortuitousness of getting up early, the early bird gets the worms type of mentality, let this be a lesson to you. It does not always pay to get up early and set out to accomplish your goals for the day. Sometimes it's better to drift slowly into the morning.

During those first moments of listening the television news reported few deaths but many injuries. At least a couple hundred people were suffering, maybe more.


Why do people do such things? It's war, some say, but what point are the terrorists trying to make? What in their minds is the strategic military advantage of trying to kill innocent folks on their way to work?

The terrorists want to make a point. However, the point they make will not be the point they wanted to make. The me1dia will choose the point that is to be made by these explosions, and it probably won't resemble the point intended by the terrorists. Their violent actions only serve to muster public opinion against them and in favor of their enemies, which I presume is us.

So Tony Blair comes on the telly and says to let the terrorists take warning. They will not upset our commitment to maintaining our values or our way of life, he says.

What does Tony Blair mean by "our values" and "our way of life?" What do Britain and the United States value? What is our "way of life?"

Looking around this part of London, and much of the United States, at least one word comes immediately to mind: wealth.

Among other things, we value wealth. And much of our wealth is maintained by utilizing resources of not-so-wealthy, even poor, countries. When I compare the wealth I see all around me here in London with my memories of India, it seems obscene. An obscene way of life is what Tony Blair insists we will maintain.

My point is not that we should sympathize with murderers. My point is that Tony Blair and our leaders need to get off their high horses and start talking to us about what's real, what is fair and what must change.

The media maintains that demonstrators in Gleneagle, Scotland say the G8 could cure poverty with a few strokes of the pen. A few strokes of the pen and all the world will be as wealthy as London? Not so.

Curing poverty will require profound systemic change. I don't think this can happen without somebody giving up something. Wealth must not be concentrated at seats of economic empire, like the United States and Britain.

Tony Blair and George Bush have been getting up in front of TV microphones and saying the G8 wants to help Africa, maybe by pouring a little more into foreign aide. That's nice, but it's a pittance in light of what's needed.

Will that redistribute much of the wealth from global north to global south? I'm not an economist, but I seriously doubt it. What would it take? Do any of you out there know what it would take? What is real? What secrets are Tony Blair and George Bush hiding from us, maybe even from themselves?

Mona Lee is a Seattle-based writer. She can be reached at editor@ capitolhilltimes.com.[[In-content Ad]]