I am currently sitting on my couch watching the OneLove concert in Manchester. In case you don’t know what this is, it’s a concert orchestrated by Ariana Grande after the terror attack at her Manchester gig almost two weeks ago, in aid of the victims.
Firstly I want to absolutely congratulate Ariana on her bravery and resilience; I have no doubt in my mind that if I were her, I would be hiding under my duvet wishing I’d never even heard of Manchester. The fact that she is able to drag herself out of bed, put make up on and face the day makes her wonder woman in my eyes. I can’t even imagine hearing 20,000 fans singing my songs and then hearing an explosion and pure terror following that.
In the days following that attack on Manchester there have been stories of hope and love and helping in the news; people who have started crowdfunding to pay for funerals that shouldn’t be happening, people sharing pictures in the hours immediately afterwards, desperately trying to reunite parents and children and friends. Hotels opening their doors and sheltering terrified fans, ordinary citizens offering their homes and food and clothes to people who had nowhere to go that night. Homeless men cradling the injured and the dying. Tattoo studios inking worker bees on anyone who walked through their doors and donating all their earnings to the victim fund. The world, and more specifically Manchester, is full of helpers.
The day after the event a few of my pupils were discussing it and the general vibe of the conversation was ‘we just can’t understand why’. We talked around the issue a little bit and came up with various theories, the main one being that attacking a concert where the main body of fans were children was done for impact. For maximum tragedy.
The more I have thought about this the more I am satisfied that I am glad that we can’t understand why someone would do that because it means that we are not like them. We are not violent, we do not hate, we do not target vulnerable people, we do not use others to show our strength, we do not consider anyone different to us inferior and we do not consider death the ultimate reward for our lifetime of dedication or death the punishment for being different. We are good, we hope, we love, we live, we help, we support, we are generous, we are empathetic, we care and when faced with terror we stand and we fight in its face.
If there is one thing to come out of this attack, and the subsequent one in London last night and all of the previous attacks, it is that more and more I am seeing love in the world. People supporting and being kind and looking out for each other, and showing fear that love wins. People have not stopped going to Manchester in case it happens again; the opposite in fact, they have been pouring into the city in their hundreds to leave tributes and messages in St Anne’s Square. There have been vigils and gatherings and yes, people are still going to concerts and enjoying themselves.
In Wigan there have been a number of raids and people arrested. Did Wiganers stop going into town? Hide in their houses in fear? No. They congregated in the pub and had a drink with each other. The armed police in the town centre didn’t pose menacingly, eyeing up everyone who walked past them; no, they posed for pictures with children, said good morning to everyone they saw and greeted everyone with a smile.
Love wins and as long as long as we love, fear can never win.