"We are not afraid," everybody said, after Wednesday's attack at Westminster. The hashtag started trending, and Union Flag filters started popping up on social media. We have been saying it like a mantra ever since, as if reciting the rosary. We Are Not Afraid. We Are Not Afraid. We Are Not Afraid.
But deep down, we are.
We are afraid, because we know we are fragile. Not as a nation or as a democracy, but as human beings. We are made of flesh and tissue, and our skin is easily broken. We know that in the moment, we are no match for a bullet or a knife or a bomb.
We are afraid because we have a lot to lose. The people we love most, right down to their core, go out everyday into this big wide world, and we know that if they were stolen from us by a crazed and mindless act, it would completely tear us in two. When we hear about Keith Palmer, that he was someone's husband and someone's father, we think: Please God, not me. Please don't do that to me.
We are afraid because we can't prepare for these atrocities. We can't predict the acts of mad people. We can't know the full extent of what they can do. And when these acts take place, we can't help but speculate: What would I do, down here in the belly of this Underground station, if I heard an explosion? What would I do if the sound of gunshots rang out over Oxford Street? What would I do if a madman entered the school playground with a knife?
So yes, although this sounds morbid, we are afraid. We are afraid of something bigger than us. We are afraid of the absolute worst.
But being afraid doesn't stop us getting dressed in the morning. It doesn't stop us going to work. It doesn't stop the tube drivers driving those trains, or the busses filling up. It doesn't stop parents doing the school run, or the teachers letting the kids out to play. It doesn't stop friends getting together, or solidarity taking hold. It doesn't stop the police going back out in force. It doesn't stop the medics standing by.
We know that disasters bring out the best in people. We are at our most human in a crisis. When tragedy strikes, we must look for the helpers. They come out in force, like they did on Wednesday afternoon. Love will always be stronger than hate, and we have seen it flow in abundance in the last few days.
We might well be afraid, but we won't let it stop us in our tracks. We've all got more important things to do.