Today's attack on Westminster Bridge and the Palace of Westminster, home of the British Parliament, have shaken many Londoners and brought a temporary halt to business inside the House of Commons.
Throughout today I was involved with meetings inside the landmark Institute of Directors in Pall Mall. This is less than two miles from the heart of Westminster.
Just an hour after the attacks, many people in our building were, predictably, either consulting smartphones or crowding around TV screens. Outside, other people trod the pavements as normal, many perhaps oblivious to the tragedy occurring just a relatively short distance away.
Sirens were blaring in the distance but, this being London, while the intensity of the noise may have been higher than usual, people paid it little heed. At the scene of the attacks, of course, things were vastly different.
At the time of writing, four people are known to have died in the attack, with more than 20 others injured, some of them seriously. Police have spoken of this as a "terrorist incident".
A high-level police investigation was launched almost immediately and it seems that a sole man, armed with a car and a knife, was responsible for the attack.
Most of the wounded were reportedly injured on Westminster Bridge as the attacker drove a car onto the busy pavement. Eyewitness accounts say that he then crashed into a barrier outside Parliament and attempted to access the palace on foot.
It was at this point, apparently, that a brave police officer confronted the would-be invader and was stabbed. His job had been to protect Parliament; he did so gallantly, even in the face of a mortal threat. The attacker was then shot by police.
We owe much to our police services and security forces who do so much to protect us from threats seen and, more often, unseen by us. (Though concerns for personal privacy are important, perhaps we should be less paranoid about whether GCHQ is spying on us via our smart TVs. Why would they bother when there are real lunatics to be identified and disarmed?)
In the face of the type of raw aggression on show today, one thing remains clear. Terrorism will not bring cities like London to their knees, nor will it produce the lasting change its advocates seek – for a very good reason. There is neither hope nor respect in terrorism.
As a Jew, psychotherapist Victor Frankl endured the horror of German POW camps during World War 2. His keen observation of his fellow inmates led him to believe that many of those who survived the horror of the camps did so only because they held onto a dream of a better life after the war.
His final conclusion was that human beings can endure a great deal of pain, as long as there is a purpose in or beyond the pain.
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