Manchester was rocked last night by a suicide bomber who deliberately targeted children in the foyer area of the Manchester Arena following an Ariana Grande concert, resulting in the deaths of 22 people and injuries to 59 (as of 23rd May). The media reports a lone male detonating a home made bomb packed with shrapnel to inflict maximum carnage.
Social media has been flooded with messages of condolence, outpourings of grief, general shock and anger. Islamic State have claimed responsibility and of course there are sections of the internet who are celebrating last night’s events as a “great victory in just terror”. I guess that like many people I’ve always considered acts of terror to be isolated incidents in far away lands. We are all aware of unrest in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Syria, South America and Northern Africa, but because we turn on the news and get drip-fed this on an almost daily basis, we begin to “normalise” this. The shock factor turns into indifference.
The impact of what happened last night however is chilling. I don’t know any of the victims but I can certainly imagine the reality of the horror that has ripped their lives apart, their families, friends, parents, children, school friends, teachers. Not just 22 victims but many hundreds in a wider circle. Nobody in the Manchester Arena was a paid soldier fighting in a war scenario. They were just ordinary people enjoying a night of entertainment. The suicide bomber didn’t have to pass any security measures – he simply waited for a large group of people to congregate on the perimeter.
This brings into sharp focus the brutal horrors that surround us every day. There’s the “US” – normal people who have no interest in war and terror, and “THEM” – people who live their daily lives engaged in acts of war and terror; either as a perpetrator or as a victim trying to survive. Last night sadly turned a lot of “US” into “THEM“.
Countless times I’ve been to shopping centres like the Trafford Centre, football grounds like Old Trafford and The Etihad, concert venues which include the Manchester Arena. I’ve looked at my surroundings and had “what if…” moments – scanning for the nearest exits “just in case“. I worry every day about the welfare of loved ones around me but my personal view is that you can’t stay away from every public place through fear.
Conflicts are waged by people with polarising opinions on race, religion, politics and even sexuality. While we may all be susceptible to bias, I could never imagine wanting to kill somebody who doesn’t agree with my views. I think life is for living, not for hiding – so I choose to carry on living.
Stay safe x