In this unsettling, mainstream media-induced, gut-wrenching year of 2017, it could be perceived that Europe is becoming an ever increasingly terrifying and horrible place. You might think that it's best to stay clear of this part of the world for a considerable period of time. After all, we have seen this year a deluge of violence in the form of religiously motivated, brainwashed extremists carrying out terror attacks in many of the continent's major cities over the past eight months (and of course, before then).
A maniac brandishing a machete at The Louvre in Paris in February; a moron mowing down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in London in March; a twat with a truck in Stockholm in April as well as a gunman shooting down a policeman on the Champs Elysees; the devastating bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester in May, killing 22 and injuring many more; the further mowing down of pedestrians by knife-wielding men on London bridge in June; and the recent disgusting display of violence shown in Barcelona this month.
Scared? Changed your travel plans yet? Don't.
Recently I was working for a couple of weeks in Ontario. This was my first time back in Canada in about six months. I was struck by repeatedly hearing similar stories of people who had decided that, due to these recent events, they would cancel trips to Europe for fear that they or their families could potentially be caught up in such a terrible incident. This, I have to say, is wrong and nonsensical, and I want to explain why.
Don't let the mainstream media fool you. Europe is not a place of terror, fear, violence and destruction.
One family had cancelled a planned trip to my city, London, this summer due to the events of this year and had decided to visit Edinburgh instead. Now, Edinburgh is a lovely city with many wonderful things to see, but cancelling a trip to London as a result of recent news is not a good move. Similarly, I heard of a youth arts company heading to England on a tour with a group of kids later this month. They had decided that rather than stay in London a few days that they would only visit for one day and spend the rest of the trip in other places. Again, this was due to the concern from parents over recent events. I heard numerous stories such as this, and I found it perplexing and unsettling.
I feel strongly that we cannot let the terrorists dictate how we live our lives. We cannot let them dictate where we go, what cities we visit and what we see. This is unbelievably harmful in the long run and it makes its way deep into the mentality of fear that they want us to live our lives by.
Don't let the mainstream media fool you. Europe is not a place of terror, fear, violence and destruction. It is the most culturally diverse continent on the planet. My home city of London is the most international city I have ever been to. I consider it even more diverse than self-professed "melting pot" cities in the U.S. such as New York (which I also love). You will hear more languages spoken in London than anywhere else. The events of this year have been tragic, but you cannot let things such as this dictate whether or not you come here and see it for yourself.
With the mainstream media becoming more and more eager to retain their audiences through a ratings-grabbing tactic of fearmongering and doom, it can be easy forget the facts when coming to a conclusion about the actual state of a city, or the world for that matter. According to The Global Terrorism database, 126 people have been killed in the U.K. in terror-related incidents in the past 17 years. Compare this to the 15-year period before that (1985-1999) in which 1,094 people died as a result of terror-related incidents. The worst year for terror-related deaths in this country was 1972, with 353 people killed as a result of IRA-related terrorism. I suppose you could go all the way back to the blitz, in which 32,000 people died. This is the country that stood up to the Nazis.
It is entirely necessary to keep in mind the figures when thinking about how you live your lives.
Most people are well aware that, in London, you are much more at risk from a road-related incident, but I doubt that many people are deterred from travelling to a city due to bad traffic and risks of dangerous drivers.
Of course, it is understandable that many individuals and families still have concerns over terrorism in western Europe and have changed plans to visit. However, as I have said, this is largely due to fearmongering from the mainstream media. Whilst we hear about it all the time and therefore public concern is higher than ever, the terror threat in the U.K. is comparatively low to what it has been in the past and indeed considerably lower compared to other parts of the world. In 2015 the Global Terrorism Index found that the global number of deaths caused by terrorism was at 29,376.
Terror attacks are an utter tragedy wherever they occur and whenever they occur, but it is entirely necessary to keep in mind the figures when thinking about how you live your lives. This is not a trivial matter.
I urge anyone reading this to not be influenced by the terrible actions of a tiny fringe of morons with vans and knives. Do not let this small group of psychopathic and brainwashed cowards tell you how you or your family live your lives. Come to London, Paris, Barcelona. You will see that Europe is not a terrifying continent of misery and terror, but the most culturally vibrant and historically interesting melting pot you will see. You simply cannot live your life in fear of the actions of these people. It means that they win. And they'll never win.
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