Editor’s Note: The following blog post is from my old, old friend Dr. Chris Allen, who is a broadcast journalism professor at University of Nebraska – Omaha. For years he’s been traveling around the world as a media scholar and to take students to destinations around the world. Two years ago he took our youngest on a two-week study trip to Oman in the Middle East. To say it was a life-changing experience for him would be an understatement.
This spring, both of my offspring travelled together for two weeks to Europe, and while there met up with Chris in London for dinner and other merriment. Chris was there with a group of students, as he so often has been over the years in May.
Both of my sons arrived safely back in North America yesterday afternoon, not long before the news from Manchester started breaking. It’s been a difficult thing to know how to react to. My wife and I are still very glad our boys took this trip and had those experiences together. But we would be lying if we didn’t admit that we were glad to have them back closer to home.
A few minutes ago I was on Facebook and saw a link to this wonderful blog post from Chris with his reaction to yesterday’s bombing – as someone who has been through bombing on a number of occasions before, and as someone was responsible for a group of students two hours away from the bombing.
Thanks, Chris, for permission to reprint your blog post here. And after you, dear reader, have read this, go check out his many other posts on Dr. Allen’s travels.
When a bomb explodes
By Dr. Chris Allen
I’ve been to Kabul, Afghanistan, four times in my life. The first three times a suicide bomber blew up something and took innocent lives somewhere in the city. The first time, in 2010, it happened on a road I had been on just two days earlier. But in none of those cases was the bombing anywhere near where I was. The last time I was there, last spring, there was no bombing. It had taken place the week before, killing 60 people.
Those bombings were not really close to where I was. I mean, they were in the same city, but not near where I was staying or working. I didn’t brush them off, but I realized them for what they were — targeted at a specific sector of the population,not random. I have developed an attitude toward bombings. I know I have never been involved directly in a bombing or lost anyone to one. And I realize people who have may have an entirely different attitude.
I have a group of eight college students here in London with me. We fly home Saturday. The bombing in Manchester caught our attention, the attention of the university administration, and of course the parents of my students. Manchester is at least two hours from London by train, not really in our neighborhood. But somehow it seems close. So far 22 people have died. This was also targeted — at young people attending a concert in a large auditorium. It was staged for maximum injury and maximum attention. It accomplished both.
So this morning I sat down with my students. Troupers that they are, none of them appeared to be nervous about the bombing. I gave them a chance to talk it out. I urged them to call their parents if they felt a need to — I’m sure just about everyone did. One of them said her parents were putting some pressure on her to come home, but she didn’t want to, and I offered to drop an e-mail to any of their parents they wanted me to. No one took me up on the offer.
I told them that 22 people had died. But that same day seven billion people did not die. The world sometimes seems like a dangerous place, but the truth is most of us are quite safe. And I said the same thing I say to everyone who asks about all these things: If we flee home in fear without finishing what we came here for, the terrorists win. We can’t let them win. Take precautions? Be vigilant? Absolutely. But as the British are quoted as saying, Keep Calm and Carry On.
With that said, we all stood up, walked out of the hotel to our appointment, and carried on.