Originally written: 24th May 2017 | Updated : 27th May 2017
The 24 hours after 10.30PM on 23rd May 2017 were unimaginable. But they happened. Something that we thought could never touch our beloved city and our children has ripped through the very same things we believed were too sacred to violate. Our city is wounded, and 22 beautiful souls have left us. 120 people have been injured. As of right now, Georgina Callander, Saffie Rose Roussos, John Atkinson, Megan Hurley, Alison Howe, Lisa Lees, Olivia Campbell, Kelly Brewster, Martyn Hett, Nell Jones, Angelika and Marcin Klis, Jane Tweddle-Taylor, Sorrell Leczkowski, Michelle Kiss, Eilidh MacLeod, Chloe Rutherford, Liam Curry, Courtney Boyle, Phillip Tron, Wendy Fawell, and Elaine McIver have been named, and these twenty two names will live on in our memories, and we will remember. Because these are the people, the beautiful souls that left us after enjoying what they loved most, while supporting their children and friends in what they loved.
It is poignant to think that at a live music event is where such a tragedy would occur. Live music is what our city loves, celebrates, and is famous for. And live music will continue to bring us together, no matter what.
The sun smiled on Manchester the day after the explosion. The explosion that took lives and injured members of our Mancunian family triggered another explosion in the city – an explosion of love, and community, and hope. Never have I seen so many people in one place, celebrating community, celebrating the city we all call home. But Manchester is not just home, even though we’ve adopted the world and made it our own. Manchester is history, culture, knowledge, sport, unpredictable weather (trust me), and humanity rolled into one.
And when evil reared its ugly face here, Manchester’s beauty outshone it. Because when previously I lost all faith in humanity, Manchester inspired hope in it once again. The beautiful vigil in Albert Square, held for the victims, that it felt like the entire city came together to showcased the very best of being Mancunian. Strangers have been striking up conversations with strangers here since the dawn of time, because that’s just how we are in Manchester, that’s just what we do. The difference was that the love and care that we show for each other over flooded in Albert Square yesterday, just like we overflowed the streets. I’m constantly amazed by this city, and yesterday at the vigil was no exception. Free hugs were on offer, shouts of ‘I love you’ rang across the square, and chants of ‘Manchester’ and ‘Manchester la la la’ filled the air. A local band spontaneously set up in the square and started played reggae. Members of the local Sikh community were distributing water, cans of fizzy drinks and food to everyone who wanted or needed it, completely for free. I’ve never felt more part of a community than I felt yesterday. But what struck me most was our defiance. We’re stubborn as hell here, especially when we’re standing up for what’s right. And so when what felt like the world packed into the centre of the city, we stood together, we stood as one: man, woman, transgender, young and old, of all sexualities, of all colours and all creeds, of all faiths and no faith. We stood as humans, and only as humans (we even had a few furry friends come to join us too!). With that many people, anything could have happened. But we still came together to show that we are not afraid, that anyone could try and do anything to us, and we’ll still come together. Because in Manchester, we stand together. Because in Manchester we have humanity. Nowhere in the world will you find that manifesting is such a weird and wonderful way, nowhere but in Manchester.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Fred Rogers
Hope. Hope isn’t just that feeling that we have for the future. It’s a feeling that we have for now. It’s an emotion, and it’s our motivation. And sometimes hope is obscured, but on days like today it pushes pasts and forces you to look at it. And on days like today, you appreciate it so much more, because on days like today is when you realise you need it. Hope doesn’t cower away because something bad happened. Hope does the opposite – when tragedy hits, hope comes and comforts us.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hatred cannot drive out hatred; only light can do that.”
Tragedy has hit us hard. But we’ll hit back harder. And we’ll hit back with love, compassion, and community. Because no matter what happens, we stand together, and we stand as one. Because we are Manchester.
Manchester Skyline Print – etsy.com
I ❤️ MCR – http://www.hsh.co.uk/
Manchester Worker Bee – uk.pinterest.com
Other Relevant Articles:
Why we must all be a little more Mancunian after last night’s attack – Ilyas Nagdee, for Huck Magazine
This is the Place (Longfella) – manchestereveningnews.co.uk