A New Sense of Urgency
March 23, 2016
Waking up to news of attacks in Brussels, Belgium seemed an all too familiar story. Their major international airport as well as centrally located subway station was bombed, killing at least 30 people (Rubin, Breeden, & Raghavan, 2016). Only four short months ago Paris, France was attacked by terrorists as well. Although at this time, as Brussels scrambles to make sense of this trauma and the full details are yet unknown, this apparent repeat of Paris can only promote an even greater sense of urgency throughout Europe.
Although often we focus on the differences between countries in the European Union, collectively there are some ways in which they have a similar relationship to that of individual states across our country. Not only do the majority of them share a common currency, but many Europeans travel from country to country as often or easily as we do from state to state. Even with differing nationalities, cultures, and customs, this collective element can only make the attacks in both Paris and now Brussels hit close to home.
So what does it mean to be a European citizen today?
European leaders have come forward today expressing not only their condolences for the nation of Belgium, but also in outrage and an even stronger sense of solidarity, viewing this latest attack as one on Europe as a whole. German officials named the event as “A black day for Europe.” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls affirmed “We are at war. We have been subjected for the last few months in Europe to acts of war” (“Leaders React,” 2016). Alongside every political statement, has come each country’s pledge to tighten security measures across the continent a whole. If nothing else, it is clear that Europe as a union is united not only in their anguish as a result of these attacks, but also in their resolve to fight back and win (“Leaders React,” 2016).
In the aftermath of the November Paris attacks the newsfeeds looked very similar in nature. They were filled with shocking video footage as well as countries vowing to stand by France as their brother in the European Union, in order to overcome the violence which had set foot on their own collective soil. But this newest attack stands out. It is far too soon and far too close for comfort. The city of Brussels is only three hours away from Paris; a community who has barely begun itself to recover from devastation just a few months ago.
We can only imagine what the people of Brussels, are feeling today as they watch their country under attack. We can imagine because we have watched it ourselves. We had nightmares after the 9/11 attacks and we felt unsafe in our own homes, even though many of us reside in relatively small towns. Our sense of safety and our faith in the people of the world was altered that day and it will never be the same. This is what it must feel like to have lived in Paris last November and in Brussels today; watching as your country is forever changed. Feeling that the violence that was once distant and sporadic, is now ongoing and in your back yard. These two cities just hours apart, are now more intertwined than simply a common currency and a vacation spot. They and the rest of the European Union have the opportunity to stand taller together in order to address this violence with a new sense of urgency.
References: ‘Black day for Europe’. Leaders react to Brussels attacks. (2016, March 22). The World Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/world-leaders-react-brussels-attacks_us_56f129c2e4b084c67221485b
Rubin, A. J., Breeden, A., & Raghavan, A. (2016, March 22). Brussels airport and subway attacks kill at least 30; Isis claims responsibility. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/23/world/europe/brussels-airport-explosions.html?_r=0