When a bomb goes off at midnight amongst a thousand people who were cheering their teams a moment ago, or singing along to their favourite bands, or just toasting the homecoming of their child after graduating art college, it takes a lot more from us than just lives.
It takes from us the ability to empathise.
It creates norms where we learn to round up the body count, where almost 2oo bodies seem a little less tragic than 226, or 264.
It takes from us the ability to sympathise.
Where Beirut and Baghdad and Paris and Yemen and Mumbai aren’t just victims anymore. Where they become segregated. Where we can ignore cities with a hundred dead people, because they didn’t have it bad enough.
It takes from us our beliefs.
Our theatres. Our concerts. Our football matches. It takes all of that away, and leaves us with war poetry, and war literature, and a generation that’ll always hear bullets when they close their eyes, not an applauding audience.
It takes from us our safety.
And we are constantly looking behind when we walk home every night. And we treat every other religion with suspicion. Where our neighbours suddenly become ticking time bombs. Where the war dies out, but the battles rage everyday.
Where every second kid is arrested for carrying grandfather clocks in their bags because someone thought it was a bomb.
Where some kids will.
It takes from us our humanity.
Our smiles. Our love. Our prayers.
It breaks us in places we shall never recover from. So that long after the terrorists have become extinct, we will still know how it feels to hate, to fear, to live our lives in landmine fields.
It takes from us everything, except our sheer will to rise up, and fight back.
It takes from us everything, except the belief that goodness exists, and it is worth fighting for.
Prove the bombs wrong.
We owe ourselves that much.