By Barry Lord
At this time the world will be trying to come to terms with the latest terror attacks that took place today in Brussels.
Another calculated assault by ISIS on a European city – the perpetrators clearly aware of the calendar and that Belgian holidaymakers would flock in huge numbers to Zaventum airport, anticipating a peaceful Easter break abroad with their families.
They also targeted underground passengers on their way to work and enjoying the break with their families.
On the news the terrified cries of a child convulsing in shock in his father’s arms were distressing to say the least.
This sick planning resulted in 30 deaths at last count and 130 injured.
Like many of us, I learned of the events when I logged into Facebook. The picture of two terrified and confused young women covered in debris from the first explosion at the check-in area, was already circulating.
I messaged a friend of mine on FB who works for an American airline, as her safety and that of her colleagues came to the forefront of my thoughts.
Thankfully my friend messaged back, confirming her safety and that of her co-workers. Zaventum is an airport on their regular commute, but they never have to use the ticket desk. They are permitted to go straight to the aircraft.
I’m sure a few prayers of thanks were said in private.
I continued my usual morning trek through social media for more information and to gage the feelings of people across the country. The outpouring of shock and grief was evident.
Shows of solidarity with the people of Brussels were on show. The Belgian flag became many a Twitter and Facebook user’s profile and cover picture of choice – echoing a similar reaction to the tragedy in Paris last December.
World leaders united in condemnation of another attack on ‘freedom’ – promising action both swift and resolute.
A live blog appeared detailing each new development.
Social media is still the outlet of choice for many to hang their grief and the expressions of humanity on display were deeply heartfelt.
But in the wake of an atrocity on this scale, you never have long to wait for the blame game to begin.
Anonymous bloggers and reactionary warriors had their targets: Refugees, Angela Merkel, the left, the west, anyone with a beating heart and conscience.
Sadly, I also knew it wouldn’t be long before former Apprentice star Katie Hopkins came along with a big bag of salt to pour on a gaping wound. In this instance, she did not disappoint.
Katie took to Twitter to tell the world that the people who welcomed refugees into Europe were complicit in the bombings at Vaventum airport and Maelbeek Metro Station. Predictably, these latest vitriolic musings got the desired reaction; outrage, calls for her dismissal, accusations of hate speech.
It’s hard for me to condemn people like Katie Hopkins when I frequently advocate the famous Voltaire quote, which goes “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Nevertheless, I’m an even bigger believer in the idea that if you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything. So with that, I left the spiteful Ms Hopkins to wallow in the antagonism she gleefully helped create, and sought some fresh air.
Its times like these you want your loved ones close. Thankfully mine are.
In a world where your very existence depends, as today showed, on which queue at an airport check-in you happen to be assigned, or your preferred mode of public transportation, it is important to value what you hold dear in life.
I gave my loved ones a hug and took a drop of tea with them. Small gestures perhaps, but gestures that the 30 victims of today’s attacks will never again enjoy.
May they rest in peace.