Gillie Hicks
                                               Gill Hicks
(“What unites us is absolutely and far greater than what divides us”)

         On July 7, 2005, Gill Hicks, an Australian by birth, was on herway to work at Covent Garden, a famous Arts Center in London, when "foursuicide bombers blew up three subway trains and one double-decker busduring the morning rush hour, killing 52 civilians and injuring morethan 700. It was an awakening for a country that had long prided itselfon its laissez-faire multiculturalism: All of the bombers were Muslimswho had been raised in Britain. Their leader, Mohammad Sidique Khan, 30,was a university-educated youth worker with a Yorkshire accent."  [NY Times] Both of Gill's legs were blown off and she was bleeding to death asfirst responders made their way down the tunnel to the wreckage and thewounded.
           An innocentvictim, her life was changed utterly.  You couldn't blame her for beingbitter.  For wanting vengeance.  Instead, to quote the poet Yeats (asI've already done, actually) a "terrible beauty was born".
          When she awoke in the hospital, she read her hospital ID tag:"one unknown, estimated female".  How did that make her feel?
           “Whatthat label told me was that people were prepared to risk their livesand save as many ‘unknowns’ as they could — regardless of faith, color,gender or nationality — all that mattered was that I was a precioushuman life,” Ms. Hicks, now 47, said in a recent interview near theKing’s Cross subway stop, the site of the attack. “For me, that created apowerful shield against hatred.”  [NY Times]  So instead of giving in to hatred, she's decided to work for "peace, love, and understanding".
           Ms. Hicks now runs Making a Difference,an organization dedicated to counter extremism and build peace withpartners in Britain and Australia. One way that she's done this is towalk -- "nearly 200 miles on prosthetic legs from Yorkshire — hometo three of the four 7/7 bombers — all the way to London, invitingMuslims and non-Muslims along the way to join her and to talk to oneanother. Hundreds did.
          “There is a rawness when you walkand talk,” Ms. Hicks said. She overheard one conversation between twoneighbors, a white British woman and a Muslim man of Pakistani descentwho had been living opposite each other for years but never spoken.
         “She said, ‘I never say hello to you because you don’t likewomen.’ He said, ‘I don’t say hello to you because I don’t want tooffend you,’ ” Ms. Hicks recalled.
          But within five minutes,they started gossiping about their neighbors, particularly the rubbishpiling up at No. 9. “What unites us is absolutely and far greater thanwhat divides us,” Ms. Hicks said."  [NY Times]

          AndGill Hicks is living her life, too.  She has a two-year-old daughter(who calls her "Mummy Robot").  But at the same time, she's no plastersaint.
          “I’m absolutely angry, it’s such a senselessthing,” she said. “I’ve got a little 2-year-old — it makes life thatmuch more complicated being a double amputee.”
          But heranger is also her fuel — “positive anger,” she calls it. “We cannotcontrol acts of violence,” she said. “But we can control how we reactand respond.”
          Terrorists want to divide the world. She is determined not to let that happen.
         “I’d love to say to the world, ‘Let’s just stop,’ ” she said.“Let’s speak quietly to each other. Let’s regroup. Let’s stare in theface of extremism and say: The strength of humanity will prevail. It hasto.” [NY Times]