No doubt everyone has, by now, seen the reports and horrific images of the terrorist attack in Manchester, UK.
I was born and raised not far from Manchester – indeed, my town falls under the jurisdiction of Greater Manchester – and the solidarity between the citizens, of which the media speaks, is a sight to behold. Yes, we have grown apart in the modern world, often keeping ourselves to ourselves; and yet, somehow, we still manage to keep one eye on each other. This, I believe, stems from the times when people lived back to back, in terraced houses, living their lives virtually in each others’ pockets. Everyone knew everyone else, and everyone looked out for everyone else. You could wander into a neighbour’s house without knocking, and with the old folk sitting outside in summer, or watching from their windows in winter, nothing went unnoticed. Whilst it is not quite like that any more – you cannot just wander into someone’s house without knocking, for example – the sense of community and the willingness to rally round if one of us is hurt or needs help, is certainly still there, and leaves an indelible impression on those who visit.
It broke my heart yesterday, to see the images of families broken, lives torn apart, and youngsters who will remember going to an Ariana Grande concert for the rest of their lives, but for all the wrong reasons. The mother of my best friend was a nurse at Manchester Children’s Hospital, where twelve of the victims are being treated. Last night, she put out an appeal for people with the blood group O Negative, to go to the hospital and donate. I happily shared it.
However, when the news came in about the identity of the attacker, I switched channels. Why? Because he is of no importance. And if I could get one message to the world media regarding this atrocity, it would be this:
When it comes to the coward who carried out this attack, I do not want to know his name. Do not tell me where he was born. Do not tell me where he went to school. Do not tell me where he grew up. Do not tell me about his life. Instead, tell me about the victims, celebrate them, mourn their passing and rage at the injustice of the loss of such young lives. But do not give the coward who took their lives the status that he and his kind crave. Do not give him the recognition. Do not catapult his cause into the light. Allow him to fade into obscurity and become the worthless, nonentity he deserves to be. We, the people of Manchester, will stand forever, shoulder to shoulder, united in our resilience, while he and his murderous kind, individually and alone, crumble to dust.
We are many, but we are one. We come from many different countries and speak many different languages, but today, in one voice, broken but unbowed, we say the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”