I woke up this morning to the news that, at the time of writing, 22 people have been killed and 59 injured by a suicide bomb explosion outside Manchester Arena after the Ariana Grande last night. In a piece not designed to be particularly eloquent, here are my first thoughts.
Obviously I send my best wishes to anyone affected.
It’s weird that every terrorist attack, every attack of any type, is disruptive on a personal level but I think it steps up and becomes more when it is on your doorstep. I have friends in Manchester and I have people that I care about in the city or its vicinity that I can’t get hold of to find out whether they are OK or not. I am not, by any stretch, saying that I am as affected anywhere near as much as others, but the effect can spread further than maybe is realised.
Do these things feel worse when it happens at something that is supposed to be fun? I went to my first show at the Arena back when it was the MEN and I remember going to my first “proper” show at the Apollo also in the city. Some of my best nights have been based on live music. You get a buzz from a great show and the memories can last a life time. Maybe not significant in the scheme of things, but to have that feeling too taken away from these people just makes it feel worse.
My parents were involved in the London bombings in 2007. Everyone there at the time had a story and it seems harder to think of the people affected when you think of their stories.
What is the end game of terrorism? Where does it stop? There are lots of movements, dangerous or not, with what we see as a specific goal in mind. Obviously there are still facts to be established in this specific case, but most terrorism seems to have its roots in a difference of demographics and way of life and actions carried out because of those differences. Lack of acceptance of difference, to me, is the issue; sometimes that can be justified, sometimes maybe it can’t.
With that in mind, where does it end? If everyone became the same, if everyone got behind one “cause” or belief system, would this stop? I have a feeling that when radicalisation is concerned it wouldn’t, because as much as a majority say that they get it and that you can talk reasonably about oppression and agree to get behind things together to find a solution, there are many who will cite a deep rooted cause that exists and will always exist despite evidence to the contrary and it’s something you can’t actually do anything about. It’s a vicious cycle, a self-fulfilling prophecy. They talk about it as something so great that it cannot be defeated and it is, indeed, something that needs to exist for the movement to exist.
So why try, and why try by killing 22 people at a time? Why try with an objective to scare people in to getting behind a cause? Surely that isn’t why you want anyone supporting you? It’s shallow and superficial. You want the to understand and to care.
Yes, that’s a round about way for asking for diplomacy and the pen being greater than the sword, but the causes that use these deep rooted issues as their agenda are seeking to change the beliefs of millions. One sees the reaction of solidarity and “we will not be defeated” so at what stage will these attacks be seen as a significant victory for the cause versus destroying the lives of a relatively small, yet still significant, set of people. What is the measure by which such acts are seen as a success?