|I never thought the sight of a big red bus going past my window would make me so happy.
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
Terrorism isn't about the reality of statistics. Of the several million people living in or visiting the greater London area, a tiny percentage were physically hurt or killed by the bombings. A slightly larger percentage witnessed them firsthand, and a huge number of them were temporarily inconvenienced by the shutdown of the London Transport system. The chances that the next bus or tube journey that the average Londoner makes will have a bomb on it are not much greater than they were yesterday or will be tomorrow. But, as I said, this is not about statistics. It's about the perception of statistics. However miniscule your chances were and are of being blown to bits by a terrorist attack, they are now at the forefront of your mind, whether you want them to be or not.
Terrorism isn't about the frequency of occurrence of terrorist acts, or of similar kinds of attacks made during open war. Londoners of different generations experienced the Blitz and the IRA bombings of the 1980s. Many of them have been through this before. However, it is the very unpredictability of terrorism that makes it so frightening, that makes a return to normalcy as difficult as it was the last time, because the ordinary citizen has no way of knowing when, where or if another attack will happen.
People deal with this in a myriad of ways. Some become defiant, others resigned. Some find themselves swallowing down fear for weeks, months or years after the events, every time they board a bus or enter an Underground station. This is the real point of terrorist attacks, not the body count. All emotional responses are fully permissible, but it is the way that we act upon them that will determine whether or not we build a world in which the slight probability of terrorist attack on the average citizen will continue to be a weapon that can wield so much power.