I’m Not Afraid
20 August 2017-
A few hours after the horrible attack perpetrated in Barcelona on Thursday, the Rambla was alive and full of people again, the best way of standing up to the barbarism, to those miserable wretches who had spread terror and sown death on one of most emblematic and most loved streets in this city.
A few metres away, in a packed Plaça de Catalunya, the cry "I’m Not Afraid" rang out, an antidote to the anger and impotence we were all feeling, thinking about the 13 lives cut down in the cruellest fashion, about the dozens of injured, and the awful pain felt by their loved ones, who the whole city wants to stand by.
The slogan arose spontaneously, gradually spreading from one person to another until more than 100,000 people made it their own and joined in the chorus.
It is a cry of empowerment and pride. If one thing characterises this city, it is the fact that is brave, proud and strong in the face of adversity. It reminded many of us of the Barcelona that filled the streets during the Gulf War with the cry of "No to the War". It is the same Barcelona that is now telling the world it is not afraid, and that the blind fanaticism of a few (and the infinite cruelty of those who dehumanise adolescents and turn them into murderers) will not defeat us.
These are very hard days for us. It is normal for us to feel rage, disgust, bewilderment, pain and it is important that we share these feelings.
I hear and read a lot of comments that say "well, I am afraid".
I think it is honest and very healthy to admit and share that fear, because it is the only way to overcome it.
When we feel afraid, let’s remember how in this city, at the most difficult time, people went out of the way to help each other: how neighbours offered their homes to anyone who needed them. How the shops on La Rambla opened their doors to protect people running away from the horror. How in the hours that followed the attack, hundreds of people made their way to the hospitals to give blood, or offered themselves as translators, or took water and food to the drivers penned in on the ring roads by police controls. Let’s remember how taxi drivers offered their cars and the airport workers called off their strike. Let’s think about the police and emergency teams who gave their all, not only professionally but in the most humane way.
Let’s think about the number of people who queued up at City Hall to sign the book of condolence in solidarity with the victims and their families, and the thousands of messages of support and solidarity that we have received from all over the world, even from children having a hard time in the refugee camps in Greece, where they arrived after fleeing from the same terror that struck our city on Thursday.
Let’s also think about the Muslim communities who dared to condemn this atrocity in the strongest terms and remember they are afraid too: afraid there are some who might take advantage of the situation to point them out and blame them for a terror of which they are also victims.
In the last few days we have shown again that the strength of Barcelona is its people, those who live here and love the city, and who, when they have to, come together because, more than our differences, there is the feeling that we share a precious, open, diverse, welcoming, brave and caring city.
To fight fear, let us always remember that those of us who defend peace are the majority, that we are not alone.
That is what they would like, the fanatics and those that turn them into fanatics, because being on your own weakens you and fear paralyses you.
In the coming days, let’s keep filling the streets to send them a message, loud and clear: they are the ones who are on their own, they are the cowards.
And on Saturday 26, let’s make sure there are lots of us, a great many of us on the big demonstration that the citizens of this city will lead with the cry #IAmNotAfraid.
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