Again, we are horrified by what we see on TV, and social media. Children targeted in an existential struggle they have no active part in. It cuts to the core for many of us for many reasons. We struggle to come up with answers not only for us to make sense of it for our selves, but to fulfil our roles as responsible adults, as explainers of things to children who haven’t developed the rationalising capability or the nuance of argument. Although nuance is hard to find here.
Talking with children about these events is difficult, but we need to be there as the person they look to, to support and to explain. Our friends in the Australian Psychology Society have some great advice. The key thing is not to force the issue, to limit exposure (especially among kids who are social media users), and be ready to put it into context. These people are a tiny minority using a religion to harm, but fundamentally the world is still a safe place. Context is important. Reach out and let them know you are there. Even if they are half a world away.
As I have written previously, for some of us, these events can have a profound effect, as we have a sense of connection with the place. There are plenty of Mancunians among us in Australia, and many of us have travelled there. Many people support Manchester United in the EPL. A lot of people are Oasis, Doves and New Order fans. We form a mental map in some part of our minds about the place, and this mental map is a safe and secure place, often associated with joy. These events have also disturbed the mental map, and this is why some may feel sad.
Those who practise Islam will again be on edge, and the predictable chorus of frightened chimps will lash out, and give imprimatur to others to lash out in our streets, and trains and buses and buildings. Our solidarity needs to continue with those who will be unfairly targeted for how they live their lives.
Equally the music lovers among, the concert goers, the Ariana Grande fans. Easy to be dismissive of her as a pop star, but she is a role model, and there is a community of interest around her. I know. I have teenage daughters. These are the everyday things we take for granted, that sustain and nourish us. We should not be afraid to continue to do these things, but there will be nervousness.
My friend Nick has written a powerful piece on the language we use, and should be used in the dialogue. As a “veteran” journalist, he knows the power of words to shape how we respond. His piece goes to the heart of delegitimising terror as an option for disaffected young men. Will the editors pick this up, or will they continue to focus on click bait stories. We need to call this stuff out as it is, its murder, in the same way as other forms of murder, and don’t give it more oxygen.
We must continue to get to the heart of the disaffection, to be preventative, find moments that matter that maybe just point these guys in another direction. When I was in Colombia a few years ago, the security for the forum was arranged by the Colombian Red Cross youth team. These guys all came from the toughest barrios in the third most dangerous city in the world. Somehow, the youth program gave them an escape from a life of violence. We have to turn our collective minds to this challenge.
That is for the future, this is now, and as Andy Burnham, the Manchester mayor said let us just pull those close to us bit closer. And lets just reach out to those not so close to us, build a bridge, and bring them closer.
Let us turn to the wonderwall