Today I had a conversation with a group of teenagers about the atrocities that unfolded in Manchester on Monday evening. I don’t have memories of such events from when I was their age. The IRA bombings that occurred in my childhood seemed too distant from me and I don’t remember feeling at risk. Even in my late teens when the World Trade Centre was hit, I still felt safe in my little town and would think to myself what would they want in Guisborough? Everything bad in the world seemed so remote and in some ways, you could shield yourself, or be shielded from it. The young people I spoke to today are so much closer to what’s happened: they know people who were there and they know people who were injured. They knew of the attack before they even rose from their beds on Tuesday morning, some before they fell asleep on Monday night. They know details, they’ve seen pictures on their phones, they’ve speculated and debated. Some of them have probably cried. I look at my own children and am pleased they are too young to know what’s happened and, naively, I hope that by the time they are of an age to understand, that acts of terrorism are events in history books.
Perhaps since starting our Love Join Me project I’m more drawn towards the good things that go on in the wake of such attacks but I’ve noticed something. The more terror I see, the more kindness I see. Take away the one man (I won’t speculate on whether he acted alone) and you have hundreds, if not thousands of kind people who are willing to help others.
People held strangers, comforted children, pulled nails out of faces, searched for people they’d never met, offered free rides, food and drink, places to stay, warmth and a listening ear. They gave blood, they gave time and ultimately they gave hope. The ripple happened too. A homeless man who selflessly ran to help the injured and the dying now has a home, some money and has been offered a job.
When the hubbub goes, the stadium opens again and the Manchester attack takes its place in history, we won’t forget the horror but we mustn’t forget the kindness either.