Writing this blog is difficult for me this time. The situation after the attacks in Brussels absorbs my focus more than I like to admit.
Since the attacks happened, clients who come to see me talk about how unsafe they feel. They are tired and exhausted due to the events. They are back feeling anxieties like they have not been feeling for a long time.
Not that we have been safer before – rationally not. Attacks of this kind happen all over the world every day – but when it happens next door, or in the street behind our house, the effect on us is different.
Knowing that attacks happen is one thing. We know it with our brain, with our rational side. Feeling it, because it is visible and close is another story.
All of the clients who have been coming after last Tuesday talk about their response to the attacks. It is in the centre of their thinking and feeling. It is in mine as well. Is the exhaustion we feel related to having to integrate and digest the events? Is it connected to coming to terms with an unsafe environment?
Walking downtown Brussels, noticing armed military and more police force than before changes the way I see my life. I have to adjust to new images, dangerous and threatening images. I have to adjust to be reminded that life is fragile and constantly under threat.
When I was traveling in Israel many years ago, I was riding the bus with armed military men and women. It did not affect me emotionally, because I knew it was in Israel and not in Belgium and I knew I would fly home to a safer place some days later. Still the images of those dangerous weapons right next to me in the bus stay in my mind until today. These days I am painfully reminded of the conflict in the world, not only in Israel and Palastine.
You may ask why don’t I write about refugees, mutilated men and women in Africa, children without parents, families without homes or torn apart. I know that this all exists. Unfortunately. Today I am in Brussels and I feel my own environment being insured.
I live in a city where bombing took place. I have to think more intensely about the misery, suffering, sadness and aggression in the world than before. The events in Brussels of last Tuesday remind me painfully of what we human beings are capable of doing to each other.
Has the world changed in the last years? Is the world more dangerous than before? I am not sure. Being born right after the war, I could still feel the effect of the killing and suffering caused by the Second World War by growing up with my traumatized parents.
Why do we – human beings – have to kill each other? Why do we hurt, torture and mutilate each other? I do believe that there are different forces working inside of us; there is a life force and a death force, a constructive and destructive pull. If we are lucky the life force directs us through life, if we are brought up with a lot of violence the destructive force takes over.
Through globalization and mass media we are literally faced with a lot of destruction. We see pain and hurt every day. We are bombarded with images and information, dreadful pictures and manipulated information.
I do not think that the world has changed. I think that we have to face up to destruction and aggression in all of us. We are confronted with our inner demons. Violence and destruction is more in our face than before, but it has always been there. Jesus was crucified.
One of my clients opened a thoughtful discussion: Why are these young kamikaze bombers ready to give up their lives for an idea rather than following the biological nature of mammals to reproduce? After all, we are mammals.
After a destructive event like last week, life continues. We clean up, cover over and continue with our daily routines. I think we have to do that in order to stay sane in a crazy world.