The only thing to be thankful about almost 24 hours after the various attacks around Mumbai, India that the immediate crisis is about to be over.
Most of the hostages seem to have been released from the Taj Hotel pictured here, although it's not entirely clear that the same can be said at the Oberoi hotel across town. Here's where we stand for now, as outlined by the New York Times:
Even by the standards of terrorism in India, which has suffered a rising number of attacks this year, the assaults were particularly brazen in scale and execution. The attackers used boats to reach the urban peninsula where they hit, and their targets were sites popular with tourists.
The Mumbai police said Thursday that the attacks killed at least 101 people and wounded at least 250. Guests who had escaped the hotels told television stations that the attackers were taking hostages, singling out Americans and Britons.
At some point, the immediate crisis will be over. The dead and wounded will have been counted, and we will likely know a lot more of what happened and how it went down.
As someone who's spent a fair bit of time at most of the major venues that were hit, and who has family visiting Mumbai only a few miles away from them, I've spent a fair bit of time trying to as up to date on all the details (family and friends safe for now).
What's not entirely clear are the near and long-term implications of these events, both for India and the rest of the world. We can do a little bit of guessing though.
2. With over 150 million Muslims in India, one of the largest concentrations anywhere in the world, it'll be a challenge for the government to keep both Hindus and Muslims calm and cooperating in the coming months. If the past is any guide, we'll likely witness some scattered ugly instances of Hindu/Muslim violence in other parts of the country.
3. Various politicians in and outside India will also have a choice on whether to succumb to the relatively attractive merits of milking this event for it's obvious political benefits. Again, if the past is any guide, most will go the route of grabbing the low-hanging political fruit for now.
4. Travel by visitors to India will likely take a hit, as will some business and economic activity. How much and how long this takes will of course depend on the decisive actions of authorities in India and abroad.
5. Many sources of news and information, from CNN to Wikipedia to Twitter to IBN TV in India, will have their time in the sun. Ratings, viewer-ship and audiences will expand in the short-term.
6. Armchair digerati will again ooh and ahh over how the latest internet services were so ground-breaking again in changing the mainstream media landscape. There'll be heated debates and discussions on this issue, with a number of folks getting all steamed up on either side of the issue.
These stories will be picked up by the afore-mentioned mainstream media and they'll continue to ooh and ahh over the emergence of "citizen journalism", and discuss the "implications" ad nauseum with various talking heads.
All of these and more possibilities can be expected in the coming days and weeks. I for one will be thankful if we had a little bit less of item 6, and a lot more out-of-the-box positive efforts on items 1 through 5.
We need to stop being amazed every time services like Twitter, Friendfeed, Tumblr or some other cool technology-driven service is useful in getting fresh and raw information to the most people in a crisis. We just need to recognize that these are tools that do change the way things were done, and keep trying to figure out new ways to use them better.
On a far more serious note, I'll also be thankful if the following also happened:
1. That the Indian people don't allow their government to over-react to these reprehensible crimes designed to provoke anger and over-reaction amongst mainstream Indians, pitting Muslims against Hindus and Indians against Pakistanis.
2. That Hindu and Muslim authorities come together in the wake of these tragic attacks and don't allow those who committed these crimes to drive a wedge between their communities, thus giving them exactly what they want.
3. That the media in India maintains balance in it's coverage and doesn't allow the authorities to under-play the war on the underlying crimes here, and over-play the inevitable "war on terror" that'll become their rallying cry.
4. That the media abroad focuses less on the crimes committed here against their citizens in Mumbai and focus more on the crimes committed against hundreds of civilians regardless of their nationality. The crimes against specific nationals and religion seem to be more crimes of opportunity than pre-meditated attacks against foreign nationals.
5. That businesses around the world keep these attacks in long-term perspective and don't over-react by diminishing their business travel and more important, their investments in India, thus playing directly into the designs of the perpetrators.
6. That tourists don't allow these events to markedly color their perceptions of visiting India in the long-term.
7. That we stop calling these crimes "terrorism", and focus on addressing the root causes that allows these criminals to continue to recruit members to their "cause".
All this is a lot to wish for I know, but hopefully some of it will come to pass, this time.
We need to start to learn from these reprehensible crimes when they occur anywhere in the world, and really try not to make the same mistakes again and again.
The bad guys are counting on us to get angry and over-react.
They're counting on us to help pit our communities against each other.
They're counting on our over-reactions to create collateral damage that'll turn moderates into angry extremists that they can then recruit for future crimes, thus keeping the cycle going.
But most of all, they're counting on us to keep writing blank checks to our governments to protect us at any cost, especially our open societies and liberties.
Let's not do this again, this time.
Let's break the chain of over-reaction, for all time.
Happy Thanksgiving Day all.