I never thought I’d be one of those people who need time off to deal with a tragedy that didn’t directly affect them. Yet this morning I found myself needing to work at home because I kept bursting into tears every time I heard or thought about the bombing at Manchester Evening News Arena last night.
I know to some this will seem over the top. However this is probably the closest I’ve been to a bomb. Not in the geographical distance sense but in the emotional sense. I lived in Manchester for over 10 years. I went to concerts at the arena many times during my time there. I have lots of friend’s still there. My wife’s nephew was near the arena last night and heard the bombing. My brother is due to go to a concert there on Thursday. Lots of connections. I think this is partly why this is affecting me so much. Those close connections that tie it to me.
The other reason is empathy. Empathy for those who have lost love ones. For those injured. For those young people who’s lives will be forever changed by that night. For those parents still looking for their missing children. I can only imagine the panic, fear and despair because I can’t imagine being without the people I love and losing them.
So it has deeply affected me. I know from the tableaux of social media I am not alone as the world wakes up to what had happened and makes sense of it. For most of us committing any act of hurting another living being is beyond comprehension.
However what I’ve seen recently is how the hate spread by a few who think killing is a normal response to their anger is affecting so many of us. The bombings around the world seem almost weekly. The hatred and vitriol against those who are different to us is germinating in a way not seen for many years. Tolerance and living happily alongside others of so many backgrounds is dissolving and making way for intolerance and anger in some communities.
It is easy for me to say this in a way. I have not lost someone to a war. I am lucky to have a priveliged life in relative comfort. However I have experienced sadness, unfair treatment and hate as others have. As a fat woman I have been a victim of hate. As a lesbian, people who have never met me wish me dead. It would be easy to hate those people who judge and treat others so badly. But mindfulness also teaches us compassion. It teaches us to love others and to love ourselves. To share loving kindness. To be kind and to love gives such good feelings. But it is hard sometimes. To love your enemy is not an easy task.
If we should take one thing away from this awful tragedy it is to not let hate win. There are an isolated few in this world who think it’s OK to hate and to kill innocent people. This is not the masses. Let us be the difference. Let us find a way to love each other, to care for strangers and to perform random acts of kindness just because. Are you with me?