Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dealing with threat

I was in London as the street car bombing terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow were foiled. I must say I was pretty chastened at the thought of Baghdad tactics arriving in the U.K. I was also in New York on September 11 and watched from my Hudson Street office as two planes flew directly in front of me on their way to destroying the World Trade Center. The incident with a bomb being discovered outside London’s Tiger Tiger club turned my stomach at the horror man is prepared to inflict on fellow man.

I left London to spend the weekend at my house in St. Tropez. You would think that was about as far away from terrorism as you could get. However, at 1:30am that evening, I was woken up by a panicky neighbor, yelling at me to get out of the house because of a fire. Having lived through countless false alarms in hotels, I’m afraid I didn’t take it too seriously. I picked up my passport, credit cards, and briefcase and leisurely made my way through the front door. “What fire?" I asked. Phillipe Jacques pointed to the whole hill behind the house, ablaze with orange flames 20 feet high and spreading like crazy as the mistral blew it through the area I live in. “That one,” he said.

Two neighbors’ houses were directly in the path and we were all rushed down to a security point. Twenty-five fire engines (yes, twenty-five) were on the scene within minutes, followed by a dozen police cars. Two hours later, the fire had been controlled and extinguished by incredibly competent and brave firefighters. The police had also caught two perpetrators; two arsonists had a grudge against the estate on which I live, and had taken it out by setting a random fire, which could have destroyed property and human lives. Many of the people involved were shocked and panicked by this incident and the inhumanity of the arsonists. We need to find a solution to all this somehow.


Kempton said...

I don't know what to say other than writing way too long. So I am going to keep this short. Sorry to hear what you had gone through and must have felt on 9/11, London, and the fire set by arsonists.

I hope we can find solutions to all these violences somehow. Having watched the 11 lessons from "The Fog of War" again recently, I think we are still far away from learning or applying many of those lessons. I know this is passive, but until then, I hope we stay very lucky.

Susan956 said...

I often have a quick array of responses in many directions. One is "Heck this man is traveled. I have been NO where (and I haven't). Which knife and fork on this table setting am I supposed to use" :) Like Robin Williams I deal with aspects of harsh reality but seeing some amusing elements.

I have lived for 25 years on the relatively sleepy north coast of NSW and although I admit my accommodation was broken into twice, once while I was inside, I've never lived with worsened threats than that. Suddenly I am in a cityscape where the apartment block suddenly has a major problem with security. Two people coming home late the other night were attacked and kicked senseless. In talking to the corporate chair about lighting around the place I found that the dim lights were actually blue lights to try and prevent junkies using doorways etc. There used to be 20+ needles left a week and now the rare one.

My senses are being raised - like hairs on the back of your neck.

I am amazed at road anger here. Take 2 seconds at a light and you are being blasted. I mentioned this to a young man the other day and he said he had spent some time living in London and he commented on how a city, with such a huge population, had a culture that was so very polite in terms of traffic and associated respect.

When I can, I write to consuls/embassies (representing countries all around the world) and thank the people who have worked so valiantly to protect and preserve life; whether they be fire crews, those who save miners, police and ambulance and so on. My belief is that these actions, in a global society, wind up making all our lives better and improved. And adults rarely thank each other enough. I am a great believer in old world courtesies and taking the time to say "thank you, you doing 'that' led me to feel better about the world".

I believe the police forces and special operations units in the UK and from companion countries (intelligence) require our most grateful thanks and appreciation.

In one way these are reasons why so many young people are turning on now to the sentiment of say ANZAC - because they are now seeing what it means to lay your life on the line for others - and even when and if you may dispute the cause, you must admit your gratitude and appreciation to the individuals.

Piotr Jakubowski said...

I am also sorry to hear what you went through during 9/11, London and the fire. I had similar experiences in that I was in Indonesia when the first Bali bombing occurred (taking the life of my teacher) and when the bombing of the Marriott hotel took place (taking the life of my friend's father).

Words cannot express how angry I am at people who feel the need to inflict pain on others. In retrospect, it's a very sad thought. On a much smaller and less important scale, it's also sad to see how grafitti taggers destroy what they're given and ruin it for others.

I hope humankind finally decides to start learning from their mistakes and is able to find a solution to this problem which is plagueing our world.

Susan956 said...

Although the pipe explosion in NY today was purely accidental, once again we are reminded of the efforts of service personnel et al.
Vale to the person who died.

CONSUL said...

Exactly one day before the terrible 11M railwaystation bombing in Madrid where over 200 people found a completely unjustified death, I found myself in that same station.

Destiny decided my time hadn`t come yet.

A colleague of mine didn`t have the same luck and perished next day in that attack.

But besides terrorist attacks, there are “common” agression, mental-sick agressions, natural catastrophes, state-interventions, wars et al.

Solution? Explore Mars as soon as possible and send all these agressive minded subjects in a special space shuttle to that panet.

Problem? Where to find a big enough shuttle for transporting so many evil minded elements that are intoxicating our existence..


Kempton said...

I just read this today. I hope Mr. Nelson Mandela's Village Elders initiative will be able to tackle and help guide us to solve some of our global crises.

Ultimately, I hope the Elders will not only help us solve some of our challenges but will also help show us the light on the "how to". So, on that note, I hope they can share with us as much of the process of solving these crises and not just handling them "in private". Just my 2 cents.

- K


J said...

Hi Kevin, what to say apart from God does watch over people, I know sometimes when we look at the harsh realities of life it doesn't look like it but I think he does. It's odd isn't it, sometimes we are happy go lucky living our lives and something happens to make us realise how very fragile and vulnerable we all can be.
So let's all send up a prayer, to learning to forgive and to learning not to hate or be jealous. A tough prayer I know but I do believe in the power of many minds all focused on good.
God bless and keep well

J said...

Hi Kevin,

I've been thinking about this post of yours quite a bit. The image of you standing watching planes fly by only to later discover where they were going is pretty thought provoking and so too was your story about the fire.
I could sense your shock and that feeling of unease at what humans can be capable of. Yet all of us are born with emotions, how then can some become so filled with hurt that they wish to hurt others?

Perhaps the answers to these questions lie in our sense of self, our spirituality and our sense of either oneness or isolation from each other.
I hope that the following link sends out a feeling of empathy and also peace of mind to you.


Kempton said...

Hi Kevin,

I want to add this. I think we, intelligent humans, have not learned the needed lessons from great man like the Canadian retired General Romeo Dallaire. It is terrible even my own Canadian government is not listening.

Here is a video interview of General Dallaire on CBC,

Best Regards,
P.S. General Dallaire, "The world most sophisticated weapon system - a nine year old with an AK-47." Powerful piece.

Shane said...

Hi Kevin,
I know exactly how you feel. I'm a proud Kiwi and currently living in London. Although I never experienced the 911 attacks in America first hand I have experienced both terror attacks in London first hand. I was stuck on a Tube for 2 hours a couple of years ago with the Tube attacks, and of cause the latest attacks I had a near miss having been in the West End 12 hours earlier!

Your right, we need to find a solution to all this. Each time I reflect on these situations I think: Why do the people responsible for these violent attacks wish to make this beautiful world such a frightening place to live in? Surely living in a "peaceful and loving" existence is something even they would aspire too? Maybe they just need a Lovemark?

Kevin Roberts said...

Many thanks for your thoughts and links. Fascinating video clip Kempton.