Manchester

On waking this morning, I learned of the tragic incident in Manchester where 22 people lost their lives and 59 injured (at time of writing), some are still missing. My heartfelt sympathies to all families involved.

This was at a pop concert, Ariana Grande, where the vast majority of the large audience were teen girls, some as young as 11, from reports so far. Just think of the excitement of these youngsters as they’ve been looking forward to going to see their idol for some time, riding on the high of a great concert experience and then to be faced with mortal terror. Some won’t be going home and all because of a small group with a twisted agenda determined to bow everyone to their will, their way of life.

This will not happen.

As a father of a teenage girl, this is particularly poignant as we consider letting her go to a gig with friends, on their own. Initial reaction is always to protect but how far do you go? We can’t stop our kids from going out ‘just in case’ as that is not feasible, practical or sensible, from their perspective. We do not want to breed a generation of kids unable to be independent and scared of gathering in groups. If so, we let the demented minority rule us by fear, and there is more than enough of that in the world as it is right now.

Already there are posts on social media claiming ‘enough is enough!’, ‘hang ’em high’ and ‘fight then, bomb them’, which come out every time. I believe it is exactly this type of conditioned thinking that has put The Western World in the position of being targeted by terrorist bombers.

Here’s what I mean. The West launched attacks in the Middle East in 1990 and then as a follow up in 2003, as a direct response to the 9/11 atrocities. The War on Terror was laid to stamp out the roots of terrorism and allied forces have been in The Middle East ever since with potentially millions killed and displaced in the aftermath. It continues today.

The former head of Counter Terrorism at MI6, Richard Barrett, was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 this morning and said that simply bombing countries is not working and we need to do something more intelligent, which is to work within the communities to integrate, not demonise large sections for the actions of a very small minority. He was quick to stop any nod from the media towards a Syrian immigration as the main threats in the UK are born and brought up here, so there is something rotten in our society that we must address.

Simply demonising immigrants who are escaping desperate conditions in their own country which was destabilised in the region by the actions of western policy is missing the point entirely. In fact, it’s quite idiotic and again, social conditioning is playing its part. Direct your anger to your government and western leaders for painting a target on us and most alarmingly, our children. The politics of division is putting petrol on the flames from a fire hose and we are seeing a product of it here.

If you tell someone or a group of people that they are something to be hated, they are animals and you will reject and / or fight them, what do you think the response will be? Of course it will be ‘enough is enough’, ‘hang ’em high’  and ‘fight them, bomb them’, which as I’m sure you will note is exactly what the aggrieved are saying after this recent atrocity, ironically.

In the aftermath, through all the chaos, humanity took over. There were offers from locals to drive the stranded home, a bed for the night, food and cups of tea. The emergency services swung into action and tended to the injured and shocked, quickly making the area safe, looking after people. That is humanity, gelling together to make sure everyone who needs help gets it, in whatever capacity they can, regardless if it is their job or not. These people deserve a lot of praise for what they do and it is humbling yet fortifying to learn of the good in people at a time like this.

Remember that. It took one person to plan and commit this heinous act and took many to get involved, all willingly to the best of their abilities to help others when it mattered most. More humanity than otherwise and all are to be commended for that.

While we mourn the passing of innocent people and reel in the shock of the aftermath, we must remember to keep our humanity, not to demonise communities or look for revenge. If you want change, be the change.

Be kind to yourself and others. It’s the only hope we have left to make a difference.

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