May 23, 2017
Posted in View from the table
I, like you, woke up this morning to the horrible news of the events at the Manchester Arena last night. Where do you even start to make sense of that? That is asking the impossible; making sense when there’s no sense to be made. I’m writing this in a doctor’s waiting room watching the news unfold on an over-sized TV screen. I wish I wasn’t.
With the news on the radio and the subdued tone of our usual 6 Music breakfast show Lil asked me this morning – ‘why?’ I’ve always said that if you can’t explain something to a child, in easy language, in words that don’t serve to camouflage or distract then you don’t really understand yourself. I don’t have an answer to that behemoth of a question. The truth is there are people who went to watch a gig last night, parents who kissed their children goodbye for just the evening, just a few short hours and they will not be coming home. It’s beyond understanding. It’s horror beyond words. I would like someone to explain ‘why’ to me too, because I’m lost. How do you hold so much hatred in your heart for anyone? Let alone strangers.
The choice of concert to target makes my own heart ache – who would be at an Ariana Grande gig? Children – mainly young girls, young teenagers – and the people who would have accompanied them, who’d left work early to get them there, who’d worked to pay for the tickets, for birthday presents, for a treat, for fun – that would be parents, cousins, big brothers and sisters, friends. Any life lost in such a senseless, violent and cowardly act is heinous but children’s lives hit all the harder, they just do, and it’s not hard to understand why. All that learning, wondering, marvelling, laughing, discovering, growing – living to be done. Maybe that can be crystallised into one word – innocence. It’s cruel beyond words.
After acts of terror like this there’s only one thing to do and the good people of Manchester have been doing it by the barrel load – showing love, mettle, compassion and defiance in the face of confusion, fear and evil. (And naturally this is utterly regardless of faith, gender, belief, colour or whatever other bullshit is used to divide us human beings.) Pulling together, offering help – there were so many displays of people stepping up last night – from offering food, shelter, car rides and phone chargers to searching for missing people, strangers to some, on the strength of photographs alone. That’s not to mention the work of the emergency services of course.
At least 22 people lost their lives, 59 are badly hurt, children are missing – there are parents out there who don’t know where their babies are, who can even begin to comprehend that?
So how do you react to that? What do you do?
Through the dark days the countless many all over this world, in numbers far, far greater than the tiny minority who act with such hatred, will fight back with the only thing that truly can defeat a power so destructive – love. I don’t mean for the perpetrators, I mean for life, for the people around us, and I don’t give a fuck if I sound like an old hippie. We must find solidarity and we must continue to live. To do the things that we love, that make us happy, give us joy, make us breathe all the deeper – we can’t go underground and live in fear, because that would be to admit defeat. It would mean that all the lives that were broken last night and in past terror attacks all across the world would have been taken and broken in vain.
Please, just kiss harder, hold tighter and longer, live authentically, find your happiness, be kind, say ‘I love you’ as often as you can, keep LIVING. And you’ll be saying say ‘fuck you’ with love and with light. Remember those people who are not going to get the chance to do that now. It’s the only way to defeat a mentality like this. And I know that’s what the truly enlightened of this world will be striving to do today, because it’s the only way to go forward. That makes me proud, and that is something I can explain to my 9 year old child.
Up with people.