My thoughts on Belgium

At around 0800 local time this morning there was an explosion at the airport in Brussels, followed by another at a Metro Station in the city. Throughout the day there have been stories on the situation across the media, including eyewitness reports and detailed images thanks to the proliferation of smart phones.

Almost 12 hours later, police in the country believe that there is one further suspect at large. This is no doubt going to be top of the headlines for the next few days and will, I am sure, result in more stringent security measures and checks at airport and train stations across Europe and further afield. Whilst this may inconvenience some travellers, I am sure that no one will be grudge the extra security.

Sadly, this is just another in a series of terrorist attacks that have focused on transport hubs. I can only assume this is because they are areas where there are a large number of people and, relatively speaking, it is easy to get into the public areas. But it is not going to put me off travelling. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, I am sure there were people who decided that they would not set foot on aircraft again. There must have been people who said they would not travel on the tube after the 7/7 bombings in London. But I am not one of those.

I believe that we are global citizens and need to have a shared understanding of other countries and other cultures. We need to travel, and trade, and share ideas with people, and we need to do so freely. There might be places we don’t like, or people we don’t agree with, but that does not make them, or us, any more right or wrong. It is by travelling and experiencing that we are going to develop our understanding of others.

So I am not going to stop travelling, going to airports, or getting on the underground in my home city or anywhere else that I visit. I am not going to stop encouraging my students to feel out of true comfort zones and visit new places. Sure, I will be more vigilant about things that look out of place, and I will not begrudge the enhanced security checks that will no doubt take place. These are but a small price to pay for being able to enjoy our world and I think it is our responsibility to ensure that we keep doing so in the hope that together we can show that terrorism, like that seen today in Belgium, is not successful.

*The cover image was a cartoon published in Le Monde by cartoonist Plantu


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