Talking the Walk
My world changed the moment a suicide bomber detonated his device on the same tube carriage as me - July 7, 2005 in London. He was influenced by a destructive IDEOLOGY and by no means someone whom I would offer the respect of being religious. I have devoted my Life to the mission of deterring anyone from following the path of violent extremism and in exploring ways in which a sustainable Peace can be established. In the 10 years since the London bombings, I have worked with many hundreds of people - some from faith groups, some not - this includes Muslims. I have grown in my understanding of Islam and how ideological based terrorism has in many ways hijacked this particular faith. I have witnessed the pain of so many who suffer the consequences of the tentacles of violent extremism, I have witnessed the disgust and dismay from the many Islamic communities that I have worked with at how these atrocious acts are carried out in the name of God. Being the Bridge is NOT about a group of people coming together to just hold hands - its sentiment and purpose is to address any division, for it is our belief and our understanding that division - the 'US' and 'THEM' creates the very fertile ground in which our youth can become radicalised, it also creates the feelings that so many have expressed in this thread which plays directly into the hands of the Extremist propaganda machine. I have experienced the greatest insight into Humanity during the hours of my rescue and it is on this that I base my messaging and the sum total of all my work. On admittance to hospital my label was 'One Unknown, estimated female'. What this chilling label told me was that the rescuer's - the paramedics, the police, the fire and rescue teams and the volunteer doctors that rushed to the scene. These people put their own lives at risk to come and save mine - One Unknown - and to them it didn't matter what my skin colour was, whether I had a faith or not, rich or poor - nothing mattered other than I was a precious human life. 'Be The Bridge' is about being 'open' - about not presuming something about someone because of the colour of their skin, or how they may be dressed, its about removing ANY barriers which may prevent us from having a greater understanding of eachother as Human beings. Yes, it is a TWO WAY path - the metaphor of a bridge is to offer a path between two points.
If you would like to know more:
Twitter Hashtag: #BeTheBridge
2015 marks 10 years since the London Bombings where 52 people lost their lives and hundreds were permanently injured. Gill was fortunate to survive the initial blast however her injuries were so severe, losing both legs from just below the knee, that she wasn’t expected to live.
‘I made a vow while waiting for rescue in the train carriage, that if I was to survive then I would use my ‘second life’ to make a positive difference’ and since 2005 Gill has devoted her work to building sustainable peace with a focus on deterring all people from following a path of extremism.
‘My focus is to ensure we are creating societies where we are confident in our difference because we are united as ‘one’,not divided into groups of ‘us and ‘them.’ ‘It was important for me to use my body in its ‘new’ form to show the strength, courage and determination that I believe is within each of us –that we can face adversity and make a difference, embracing life for all it offers.’
Gill went on to say that the motivation that has stayed at the core of all she does was from the actions of the rescuer’s and all those who never gave up trying to save her life in the aftermath of the bombs.
‘My hospital label chillingly read, One Unknown, estimated female’ what that told me was that the rescuers were willing to put their own lives at risk to come and save mine, to save as many people as they could. To them it didn’t matter what colour my skin was, whether I had a faith or no faith at all, if I was rich or poor – nothing mattered other than I was a precious human life’.
Gill continued ‘I understood immediately what it meant to be part of humanity and just how interdependent and interconnected we all actually are – one person can make a significant difference’.
Note: #BeTheBridge will be inviting other international friends and colleagues to re create the initiative.
Gill Hicks MBE
I was severely and permanently injured in the London bombings of 2005. I am determined to do all I can to deter anyone from following a path of extreme violent action and believe everyone can make a personal difference to create a confident global community and a sustainable peace.