Today we are starting a week which promises to be extremely difficult and tense. The intention to use the Barcelona and Cambrils attacks for political purposes is obvious. And if they continue in this vein, the Saturday demonstration is sure to spark episodes of political tension which will be no less important over the next few days. Yet on the other hand, the investigations by the Mossos (Catalan police) must continue and will be crucial in establishing the timeline of events, which still has huge gaps. We cannot discard the possibility that some of the things we are thinking today will change tomorrow when new information is made available.

Some media and politicians are already insistently seeking a confrontation, especially against the Generalitat. And this is beginning to prompt indignation among many people, especially because of some overly slapdash behaviours which are disrespectful of the reality of the events we have experienced. But, no matter how understandable this indignation may be, we must still be aware that calm is needed now more than ever.

We especially need a large dose of calm to respond appropriately to the attacks. The way the attacks can be used is also infuriating because it is deflecting the attention from what we should all be focusing on, namely striving to understand what happened and how it happened, and what we need to do to ensure that such a thing doesn’t happen again. Barcelona and Catalonia have reacted in a very solid and even exemplary way, showing signs of great maturity as a society. We have to continue along this pathway. Nothing should sway us from this purpose: to know how to react appropriately to the perpetrators of the attacks and everything they stand for.

A large dose of calm is also needed to maintain the integrity of the official response, and I am certain that this is not easy. The Generalitat and the two town halls involved have provided an outstanding example, working side by side and halting any attempts at manipulation that are trying to pit them against each other. And this must continue. Some people want to downplay the job of the Mossos, but their performance has been excellent. Their deployment around Catalonia was impressive, yielding dramatic results in Cambrils, Vic, Ripoll and Barcelona. And they have implemented a communication policy worthy of the democratic police in any European country. It is important to recall that at the moment of the attack and the hours after it – the decisive ones – the police of Catalonia and the government of the Generalitat were alone, and they behaved like the police and government of a state, which politically they could already be. We cannot accept the fact that those who have sabotaged the efforts of the Mossos in this specific area now want to diminish their accomplishments.

A large dose of calm is also needed to appreciate and properly cherish the solidarity streaming in from all over the world, but especially to particularly appreciate the solidarity coming from Spain. These days, there are many kind gestures, both big and small, and many kind acts which deserve our sincerest gratitude. And we cannot taint them – nor do we have the right to – by jumbling them together with the spiteful, denigrating behaviours, which there have also been. Gestures of support are infinitely valuable in times like this. And respecting them, valuing them and recognising them is a sign of maturity and sensibility.

And a large dose of calm is also needed because what is at play this week is politically decisive. A month and a half is left before the referendum on independence is held, and all signs point to a possible victory, which would lead to the immediate proclamation of the republic. It is essential to bear this backdrop in mind. The sorcerers who preach the “shock theory” believe that when a society sustains such a clear position as Catalan society has for so many years, a brutal shock that shakes it up should be caused or taken advantage of in an attempt to see whether it changes out of desperation. I don’t see any symptom of this, but we should remain aware that when the earth moves, and our country is trembling right now, any misstep could have huge consequences.

And in that regard, I think we should be very calm, especially to defend a key feature which has distinguished Catalonia’s reaction from many others: we can neither accept nor tolerate any decrease in democratic freedoms. Unfortunately, taking advantage of events like this to trim citizen freedoms has been a common practice in Europe until now. Many governments have taken dangerous steps that haven’t accomplished much, if anything; right now, France doesn’t know how it can go back to alert level 4 and take the army off the streets. In this regard, the reaction of Catalan politicians has been extremely praiseworthy. We Catalans as a society have made it clear that attacks against freedom must be combatted from freedom and with freedom, from tolerance and with tolerance. But we are still aware that to achieve this a large dose of calm is needed, because we have to avoid at all costs provocations such as those that could cause a clash of civilisations, which would actually be a clash amongst ourselves.

Some months ago I published an interview with the British diplomat Shaun Riordan, in which he advised: “If you want to be independent, act like an independent country”. Thursday, Catalonia did what Riordan said was needed: it reacted with the calm, steadfastness and capability expected of any state. Let us remain that way, as this is the road ahead: calm, surefooted, rigour in investigations, empathetic leadership, plurality, tolerance, consensus, values and freedom.

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