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When I saw a trending story on twitter about an explosion and chaos at an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena I did not pay it as much attention as I should have, I thought it was someone playing tricks. I don’t know why I thought that, possibly because I did not want to think the worst- who would want to bomb children at a music concert? As depraved as the world has become, I couldn’t for one second entertain that thought. This was at an Ariana Grande concert full of teenagers! It couldn’t possibly be that anyone would want to harm these children. And it is with that thought I went to sleep- children would not be dealt that hand- forgetting all about the blast, only to wake up at 4am to see that it was much more. So much more. 22 people have been confirmed dead and 59 injured with more missing.
A suicide bomber had detonated a home made device outside the arena at the entrance where children were to meet their parents after the concert. After what must have been a wonderful night out.
I’ve never been to Manchester, but I have heard about it, have met people from there and know people who live there; a great city is often how it is described. The people are full of life, proud of their city and they are some of the most warm and kind people you could ever meet. As we learn of the victims, the lives they led we are filled with fresh waves of sadness that such lives have been cut short by hatred. This is a tragedy in every sense imaginable and there are not enough words to convey the shock of the nation or to comfort the victims and their families. Tragedy for a city where music is a way of life, where creativity is harnessed and the arts are celebrated. Tragedy for a community, but most important for the victims and their families. This was a senseless attack on the most innocent of people; children and their guardians whose reason for gathering together was to celebrate their shared love of their pop idol, an attack on service people whose first purpose was to protect and defend, an attack on a city whose heart beats to the sound of music. This was an attack to the heart of a city, to dehumanise and shatter the core of what makes us human- for better or worse. This was an attack on our beliefs and what binds us together; Love.
But we saw the best of that Love show up in the most spectacular of ways in Manchester after the attack; first responders swung to action, hospitals on alert to treat victims as they came in, with the shutter of public transport Mancunians offered food and shelter to strangers, housing people who’d been misplaced, blood donors showed in their droves to blood banks, taxi drivers offering free rides to people who wanted to get away from the chaos, doctors working tirelessly over night to help the injured- I have been told this is a Manchester way- to do, and without question, offer help. This was the very best of us to show to those who would seek to oppress us, that this love we share for each other as humans, will not be threatened by those who remain allies of hatred. We cannot be moved to the dark where light shines all around.
After the Westminster attack in London last month, it was hard to think we would get out of it, but a few weeks after that was the London Marathon and for the first time I went to watch a friend run his first marathon, something I never usually do, and yards away from the site of the attack on Westminster bridge, a route along the runner’s course, it was hard not to be afraid of just what might happen. But standing there with the crowds cheering the runners on, there was such a show of unity and support and love for one another. The very best of us. So as the PM raises the terror threat to critical, a nation is swept up in anxiety, we worry for the safety of friends and family daily, but we are also comforted by the resilience all around us, our resolve to carry on, resolve to love, resolve to take care of each other. Never to give in to fear though we feel it, we are not alone. Something greater ties us all together; the great propensity to love one another and give a shit what happens to the next person, even on the solitary tube, on the quiet commute to work, we stand together and always will.
To the victims and their families, our hearts go out to you everyday. Manchester, you will always be in our hearts, the light of your love shining all around will never deem and we will never forget you.