Friday, July 08, 2005


The bombings in London on Thursday have prompted for me a memory and a comparison.

1. Russell Square, near two of the blasts, is where Helen, her mother, her great aunt, and I stayed for a few days back in September 2000. Helen's great aunt Betsy and I had flown overnight from Boston together to meet Helen and her mother, who were arriving from Denmark. Betsy and I, bleary-eyed, took a bus to Russell Square from Heathrow. Walking across the Square to our hotel, Betsy stumbled on an uneven paving stone and fell, cutting her chin. Literally within seconds, motorists who had seen her fall were stopping to offer aid. One man in a delivery van gave me handfuls of napkins, which stopped the bleeding long enough for us to get to our hotel, where the manager ran out into the street to hail a cab. The cab driver took us to a nearby emergency room and absolutely refused payment. At the emergency room, due to the UK's system of socialized medicine, Betsy did not have to show an insurance card or make a payment of any kind for the three or four stitches she received. On that day, we benefited from both private charity and a "big government program," proving that the two can coexist (and, I would argue, reinforce one another).

2. At this writing, according to the BBC, 37 civilians have been killed in London in the pursuit of a political agenda. To date, according to, 22,787 civilians have been killed in Iraq in the pursuit of a political agenda.

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