By now. Most if not all of us have heard of the suicide bombing that was carried out in Manchester, England at the Manchester Arena on May 22nd. The attack targeted children, teenagers, and adults who had been attending a concert by American pop sensation, Ariana Grande. Twenty-three people died and over a hundred were injured. The fatalities included seven children. The youngest among them was just eight years old.
Grande was reported to be broken and distraught after the incident. That is probably an accurate reflection of how most people felt when confronted by this news of yet another senseless act of brutality, targeting the most vulnerable and innocent among us. Children
out for an evening of music and fun, faced now with lifelong memories of being covered in other people’s blood and scrambling for cover. Others faced with the trauma of lost friends, family, and futures. Witnesses described a loud bang followed by chaos and screams as people tried to understand the commotion. When people realized that the noise was one of a bomb being set off, they fled in panic, desperately trying to escape the crowded arena and find their loved ones.
Reactions of horror and disbelief poured in from across the world in the immediate aftermath of the dastardly attack. A huge memorial of flowers and stuffed toys came up at the bombing site, a silent tribute to the victims. Social media was inundated with heartfelt messages along with expressed concern of the recurrence of such attacks. Some questioned whether we are losing the war against terror. After all, how do governments, armies, and police forces fight sole perpetrators willing to take innocent lives and then, in an ultimate act of cowardice, give up their own?
Parents are always on edge when sending their kids to events like this one, but their worries normally include breaking curfew or not answering phone calls. Careful plans are discussed by parents to ensure that their children will get back home safely
afterwards. In return, promises are made by the children to stay out of trouble. Now imagine dropping your kids off for an evening of fun and having your worst fears come true. Imagine that call that you were hoping to receive from your children every hour coming, instead, from the police.
British police have provided information on the bomber and his suspected connections. As more details emerge about the attack, the expressions of overwhelming sadness are slowly being accompanied by questions of what next. One misguided individual commits an act of unbelievable brutality. Should we hide – stop attending concerts and live our lives in fear? Grande doesn’t think so and neither should we. She has announced her plans to return to Manchester to do another concert, this time to raise funds for the adults and children who lost their lives in this attack. In her words, let’s vow not to “let hate win”.
After the horror, stories of hope and defiance are emerging every day. Among them, 15-year-old Laura MacIntyre, who suffered terrible injuries and lost her friend in the attack. Today, she is recovering fast, still in the hospital, but making “remarkable progress,” according to her parents. The Manchester Marathon, only days after the attack, carried on despite the hesitations of a nervous municipal government. The race attracted more runners and spectators than ever before; several athletes claimed to be even more motivated to show and perform as an expression of retaliation against the expectation that fear will prevail.
The Manchester incident is not the first of the year nor will it be the last. Still, one imperative must be maintained: By not giving up on our normal lives, by helping each other with courage and compassion, and by coming together as a united force of humanity, we can together fight the forces of cowardice and barbarism. Hate will not win while there is even a single voice rising up against it.