derailed


As I’ve been reading about the attempted terrorism attack on a Thalys train that was foiled by four concerned citizens, I’m overcome with a number of emotions.  I know there are “worse” things that happen regularly in the world.  I know that rail travel is still (fairly) safe in Europe.  Yet this strikes too close to home, for several reasons.

I’m a U.S. citizen, and the bravery of three of the fellows who intervened with the armed man touches my heart.  The fact that the fourth was English, and that a fifth (severely injured) individual who initially found the man in the bathroom, is relevant as well. We’re all world citizens.  We all deserve safety when we travel, or commute to and from work.  These individuals are immensely, immensely brave and put themselves in danger to save others.

I’m a U.S. citizen, but I’m also a former resident of the Netherlands, and later Belgium.  This particular event brought thoughts to my mind of “home” and “safety” and tears immediately sprung to my eyes.  If I’d stayed in my former position, I could’ve been on that train.  I frequently traveled to Paris for work.

There are a million ways in which our safety is compromised.  Living in Southern California, the traffic and driving methods (or lack thereof) put people at constant risk.  I had a near brush several weeks ago myself, and feel grateful to be alive.

I’m focusing on gratitude a lot these days.  Yet while I am grateful for my own circumstances, I still recognize the ills of the world and can put myself in others’ shoes.

The acts of bravery on that train were amazing.  I have to ask myself, what would I have done?  Then again, I’m not trained in combat, and my martial arts practice has been sorely neglected.  Apparently some of the train staff barricaded themselves in a private car.  Would I have done that?

As a former park ranger I frequently thought about my safety as well.  Being in uniform, you are trained to respond and protect others before yourself.  Yet I have never had to use this skill.

In any event, this particular train incident hit close to home, for a number of reasons.  I am reminded about being human, and what precisely that means for me.  What it means to others, I cannot always precisely say.  Yet I know what it means to me. Gratitude. Feelings of solidarity.  Finally, hope that when the chips are down we will pull for each other.  I hope we will.