“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” Abraham Lincoln
Since my last blog about the refugee crisis, appalling tragedies in the Lebanon, France and Mali have taken place. Because we hear so often about indiscriminate violence in parts of the middle east and africa, the shock value has been diminished. Not so that of the Paris bombings, not just because of the extraordinary and callous nature of the crimes, but also because of the apparent failure of the various European security forces to react to very good and timely warnings of intelligence.
I returned to work last Monday and set about notifying all in our community by email that we were having to reassess the risks around our various trips and residentials planned for the next few weeks. In consulting with my colleagues in leadership, I had to bear in mind not just what was safe to do given the change in circumstances, but what was morally right as well. As our Prime Minister made clear at the time, to give into to terror is an admission of defeat.
The trouble is of course, that as an individual, I can be brave, and stand shoulder to shoulder with others in our country and community. That’s a legitimate choice I can make, and down to me. It has certainly been more awkward to consider how best to act when the government risk factors get lifted to the highest level, because of course I am authorising decisions that affect others, both adults and children. So in postponing a planned trip to Lille, on the very edge of the man-hunt for one of the missing terrorists from the Paris assaults, whilst it seemed highly unlikely anything would happen, it is quite a comfort subsequently to receive advice from government that travel to France at this stage is unwise.
As the days progress, we find that our day trips to London and elsewhere have resumed safely. It is still much more difficult to manage evening visits, simply because our own community at school is expressing considerable concern and disquiet as well. The consequences, should an incident happen are too terrible to think about; like many other schools and colleges, we have to think not just of our students but of our staff as well, who themselves have their safety and those of their families to consider as well.
Lincoln’s aphorism helps perhaps give a suitable perspective to the problems we face; we have been reintroduced to the notion that life actually has rather too many barbs about it for comfort just at the moment. As time passes and the security forces enable us to feel a greater sense of safety, I am sure our sense of adventure will grow once more. But for the time being, I’ll stay cautious for our adults and children, because I do take my responsibilities to care and safeguard others really seriously.