We Stand Together

Manchester Bee

First up, this post may seem a little off-topic but in a way it’s still relevant so please bear with me!! A couple of nights ago, a suicide bomber decided to blow themselves up as people were coming out from a gig at the Manchester Arena, which has a 21,000 capacity. The gig was sold out. As soon as I heard about it via Twitter, I needed to know what was going on. Even though I moved away a few years ago, Manchester will always be the place I call home.

The explosion was timed to catch as many people as possible. What made it really sick was that many of the people at the gig were young. Really young. The youngest fatality was 8 years old. EIGHT!!! It was heartbreaking to watch events unfold. So much confusion and panic everywhere. People fled in all directions, getting separated from each other. As the Police and emergency services immediately swung into action, so did the people of Manchester. With the area locked down, many wounded and all public transport suspended, complete strangers rallied together to do what they could. Nearby hotels took in kids who’d been separated from parents, taxi drivers all offered free rides to help people get home (some taxi drivers from other cities even offered to drive over to assist too) and people offered spare beds or places to stay overnight via social media. The terrorist had intended to not only kill as many innocent people as possible but to break the spirit of the people of Manchester. To instil fear and create chaos. Instead, the people of Manchester retaliated to that single act of evil with thousands of acts of kindness. It was amazing to see so much kindness and support, but it made me sad that it was born from something so evil. Why does it have to take something so terrible to activate this sense of comradery in people? One homeless guy did all he could to help as he held a dying woman in his arms. In an interview, he speaks openly about what happened. Despite having absolutely nothing at all, he gave so much – especially to that woman in her final moments. A true hero.

I Love MCR
A vigil was held at Manchester’s town hall last night. Thousands turned out to pay their respects and to show they will not be beaten by terrorism (image via The Guardian)

The following day, I continued to follow what was happening. The previous night’s efforts by the people of Manchester were overshadowed by confirmed deaths. It was really difficult to read and it hit me really hard. My home city, the place where I grew up, had suffered at the hands of a terrorist. It felt personal as I still have friends and family there. It also brought back memories of a previous attack on Manchester. When I was a kid, I was in city centre at the time of the IRA bombing. I was with my family and we’d just arrived in the city centre to do some shopping. All of a sudden there was utter chaos and people were running away. Nobody knew what was going on at first, there was just a sudden need to escape. I can totally understand what people were feeling on Monday night. Nobody should ever have to go through that. Given my recent sense of deeper emotions, I was a complete mess for most of the day. I just couldn’t get my head around what had happened. Tragic stories made me cry and whilst the whole situation left me frustrated. The other thing that really set me off was the overwhelming hatred which began to surface as the day went on. Now the event had taken place, people needed someone to blame. Though the Police were quick to arrest people connected with the incident, people still needed a quick and easy solution to enable them to carry on with their lives – much like the film I discussed in an earlier post. Race became the obvious easy target, with people making racist comments about deporting all Muslims and how they’re like a virus in our country. Those attitudes and comments were as sickening as the bombing itself. Yeh, I can understand the frustration and fear over what happened but there’s no need for such hate. In fact it was that kind of hate which divided the country over last year’s Brexit referendum. Those campaigning for the UK to leave the EU focused on immigration being a main reason for the country’s fall from grace – ruining the health system and taking jobs or state handouts etc. As soon as the result was announced, and it was confirmed the UK would be leaving the EU, some who’d voted in favour of leaving turned to violence and racism, abusing those from ethnic backgrounds, telling them to pack up and go home etc. Overnight, people had devolved into savages. They saw the result as an excuse to unleash their misplaced anger. It was really grim to watch. As people discussed the bombing, that same anger came out. Verbally attacking those who were from a different ethnic background or labelling certain ethnicities as terrorists. What those ignorant twats don’t seem to realise is that on the night of the bombing a lot of taxi drivers, doctors, nurses and emergency services staff were from diverse backgrounds. By their twisted logic then, all white men in the UK are automatically murderers, given that serial killer Ian Brady was a white male!!

It’s exactly this kind of hate which I fear. The sort of hate which is responsible for me not being able to talk openly about my own situation. Obviously what I’m going through is nothing compared to the losses suffered on Monday night, but to me it’s still important. Seeing that hate resurface so easily made me even more hesitant about myself. I know people do say encouraging things like “don’t let anyone stop you doing what you want” or “don’t let haters get to you” etc but in reality, it’s never that simple. I used to shrug off all the judgemental stares, sly comments and humiliation but, as I learned, it soon breaks you down. How can you stand up when you’re outnumbered? Fear is one of the things stopping me from being able to talk about or acknowledge my situation. It stops me from being able to move forwards, which is why I’ve probably been so lost lately. How can I stand up to the fear when I’m not even on my own side?

Featured image: “Manchester Bee” via Google

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