By Ivan Vandermeersch responding to international connections on the question: ”you are ok? “
It just happened on 22 March. Beginning of this week. I am sitting at my desk at home before my PC. Shit, I didn’t respond to Livia. I pour myself a cup of tea in. Just if this would give me some inspiration. And suddenly the breaking news came in.
I turn the television set on and call my wife. The one I’m sharing joy and tears with since more than 30 years. Stunning. People are running away from Brussels airport. The first assessment is 10. “It might be a terrorist attack”. “Of course it is” I told myself. Happily enough, it is a day where neither my daughter nor my son are taking a plane.
We are looking with open mouth to the television set. As it is the case for all normal human beings, our first thought goes to our children. During the broadcast the news came in that an explosion happened at the underground station Maelbeek. Again the message “it might be a terrorist attack”. “Bloody idiots”, I thought to myself “it is a terrorist attack”.
Suddenly my wife tells me. “This is the underground station from the aria where Victoria’s boyfriend is living, but he usually goes by car to his job.” “What about my daughter? Thought I to myself”. An indeed she arrived at the station after it happened…
Later in the day an email came in from my sister checking if we are okay. Her phone doesn’t work in France. I let her know we are okay. Later in the evening I read an email from her mentioning that friends of her, that were celebrating with us her last anniversary, have been hurt in the airport. The husband has been amputated from a leg.
The day after I had to go to a meeting in the center of the city. I must say, as a resistant to terrorism I decided to take my usual eight minutes train to Brussels South. I refuse to surrender and give them any victory. The rest I did on foot.
Other alarms came in. Yesterday, a bomb alarm has been issued from the area close to my son. Immediately I sms him. “Alarme à bascule.”
All this is an average family story. This becomes daily life. We may esteem ourselves lucky in current circumstances. Until now…
The rest you probably watched on television. Firemen and civil servants did what they could on the field. With courage. Mistakes have taken place on administrative level. And some are blaming the one and the other. And indeed, errors happened. For me there is a time for solutions now and later on we would have to learn lessons for future. I don’t think Belgium has the monopoly of errors. Through the media you must have food for thought. Too much of it probably. Therefore I don’t want to comment more. However the opinion I share with Assita Kanko is worth listening to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViHfKqCTpOQ&feature=youtu.be .
My family is still safe, our values are hurt. A lot others had less luck.
I prefer continuing to hope that we will be able to save our diverse open society and our values. A society of freedom and openness. A society where we accept the difference. Where we even look for the difference as the difference is a starting point to build bridges.
There is no room for negotiation on our values. We have to stand up for this. Universally.
“Never, never, never give up” as Churchill said.