22 July 2011. I’m in Brussels. Tweets of Norwegian friends inform me that a bomb has exploded in the centre of Oslo. Another tweet from them later informs me that there’s also been a shooting at the Norwegian Labour party youth conference. At this stage, we still don’t know what happened exactly. As I watch the news giving more details about the events, I feel a mix of anger and despair. I know this feeling too well.
25 July 1995. I’m in Paris. I hear there have been bombs in the busiest metro station of Paris. My family and I are aghast. My aunt commutes through this station to go to work. She was fine. Since then, seeing armed soldiers in the Parisian metro’s corridors has become usual. But I never got used to it.
11 September 2001. I’m in a car with my father somewhere between Grenoble and Paris. He’s just helped me find an apartment in Grenoble where I’m about to move. It’s around 2pm. We hear on the radio that a plane has crashed in one of the Twin towers in New York. Analysts say that’s when the 21st century really started, just as WWI was the real beginning of the 20th century.
11 March 2004. I’m living in Amsterdam in a shared flat with 12 other people. 8 of them are Spanish. I look at their mortified faces as they watch the Spanish national television relate the bomb attacks in trains close to Madrid.
7 July 2005. I’m still in Amsterdam. It’s early. I get out of bed, turn on the TV and soon realise there’s been bomb attacks in the London Tube. My boyfriend is still asleep. One of my best friends lives in London.
We all remember where we were during these events. I always get the same weird confused sensation: a mix of incomprehension, helplessness and pessimism for the future of humanity. I try to avoid anger. Violence begets violence. And violence is never a solution.