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We are all Belgian. We are ALL victims of global terrorism.

March 22, 2016

This morning, like many Americans, I woke to news of the terrorist attacks in Brussels. As a lifelong cyclist and fan of the sport, Belgium has long held a place in my heart. I once had a chance to race in Belgium, but was not able to go- something that still pains me. It is March, almost April now, and the eyes of the cycling world are firmly fixed on Belgium as the most important one day races of the year are soon to happen; Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Gent-Wevelgem. Monuments in the sport of cycling. Races in places I’ve never visited, yet are dear to my heart.

The attacks that took place in Brussels today are sadly not unexpected. As Belgian authorities made arrests connected to the November terror attacks in Paris, the fear of another attack grew. And now those fears have materialized into horror.

I have made a number of friends in Belgium over the years of being in the cycling industry, and involved in the sport. I have many more friends who have ridden, raced, toured, and otherwise enjoyed Belgium. The attacks there today feel a little closer to my own “home”, simply because of the connections I have to Belgium. The shock and horror there must be unimaginable. I am unable to comprehend the fear that gripped everybody in the moments immediately after the blasts, as people scrambled to connect with their loved ones, waiting anxiously for calls, texts, or faces to walk through doors to safety.

Just as many of us declared “we are all Parisian” in November, many of us are now declaring solidarity with Belgium. And rightfully so. Because we are ALL victims of global terrorism. ISIS and the myriad other terrorist groups who spin their brand of hatred into violent ideologies, seek to hurt us ALL. They want all of us, as humans on an interconnected planet, to fear them and turn against each other. Just as they ruthlessly attacked fellow muslims in Ankara, Turkey to sow fears among those who oppose them, terror groups do not care who they kill; they simply want to fuel more chaos because it helps them thrive. It isn’t as easy for some people to identify with the victims of terrorism in places that are less similar to the US, such as Turkey, but we are no less the same humans. We all have hopes and dreams, we love our families, we deserve to be free of fear, and that is what the terrorists seek to steal from us all.

We are all Belgian. We are all Turkish. We are all French. We are all Nigerian. We are all victims. We should all be united against allowing the hatred of those who want to destroy our freedoms change us. If we refuse to give in to them, by not allowing our fears and sorrow to turn into similarly radical hatred, then we have a chance to defeat them. Yes, we need to hunt them down and hold them accountable for their actions. But we can not allow them to make us hate and fear all muslims, or any other group different from us. If we allow hatred to replace our sorrow and support for our fellow humans, then the terrorists have truly won. We must instead unite in support of all our fellow humans, and work to destroy the hatred of those who wish to destroy the freedoms we all deserve.

We are all humans.

Tim

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