As I read the news of these sad murders in Manchester, posted directly to my home screen I engage in the futile mental gymnastics of trying to understand. Trying to understand the grief of survivors, the gaping bereavement of family members. The fierce and insular insanity of the perpetrator. I am baffled by the scope of our human capacity to feel or not feel. To love or not love. To kill.
Futile even to try to understand the confusion of those directly affected, in their sudden, jagged pain. The vertigo of unexpected loss. Their journey is just beginning, a thousand unfolding horrors await. Tickets to a gig, a pleasing memento converted to a marker of this pointless pain. A life time to wonder what might’ve been or not been.
Terror is so called perhaps in part because it cannot ever be stopped. We know this don’t we? We know we can’t stop people turning cars, planes and public spaces into accessories to murder. There can never be enough metal detectors or screening procedures, or checks or bans or vengeful responses. There will always be people in the world that find a flag under which to this express unfathomable cruelty. I cannot understand it. There are too many things I love to abandon my life to hatred, starting with my girlfriend and daughter all the way to places I’ve been and unthinkingly enjoyed, like Manchester. What depths must be inhabited to inflict such suffering? Thank God I can’t imagine it.
Neither can I imagine the grief of those adrift in delirious sadness, the choking, coiling misery.
Just the sharp pang when I look at that little girl’s smiling face.
My mind is too limited for these extremes and these extremists driven by goals that I do not understand. I hope I never know the pain. I don’t pretend to understand the victims, the bereaved, or the perpetrator. I have a sense that hatred comes from hatred and love comes from love.Perhaps there is a simple duty for those of us not directly affected. To know that we can’t hate our way out of this. To be loving and to be strong. At times like this to be loving takes incredible strength. As that peculiar and great son of Manchester, Morrissey said “It’s easy to laugh, it’s easy to hate, it takes strength to be gentle and kind.” Observe how this event is reported. Observe how it is used. Stay true to love and try to be strong and kind.