I have been trying to make sense of the horrific attack in Manchester and failing. I find myself struggling with my emotions, moving between anger at the terrorist and profound sadness for the loss people have suffered; between feeling overwhelmed by the knowledge that human beings are capable of such horror and awe at how our emergency services run towards danger to keep us safe.
There are days now when I feel as if the world has gone mad. Over the last year key political events seem to have made it acceptable to be openly racist, aggressive and offensive. Then some people wholly unconnected with the tragedy of what happened in Manchester use this terrorist attack to further their own bigoted views. Yet the diversity of the community in Manchester was evident in all those doing whatever they could to help.
I live in the NE of England, the opposite side of the country to Manchester; I haven’t lost anyone in this tragedy and no-one in my immediate circle was involved. I have found myself walking along the beach at Tynemouth, standing and watching the waves ebb and flow wondering how I use mindfulness or self-coaching or NLP to help me with the emotions I feel. I’ve noticed that I’ve been much more present in the moment and more aware of the emotions I am feeling. I know that I cannot change the world. I cannot make everything ok for all those who are suffering because of this attack and I feel helpless, lost and frustrated….and angry, yes I am angry and I want to shout that at the top of my voice; shout that this is not ok; that these were families, mums and dads and their kids at a concert and that this is wrong!
Then I started looking through Monday night’s twitter feed again and I began to connect with a small feeling of hope. It isn’t a loud noisy hope, it doesn’t really balance out the sadness and anger that I feel; it’s a quiet, glowing orb of hope and it happens when I look at, not just the wonderful work of the emergency services, but all the strangers who came together to do whatever they could to help. Cafes and restaurants opening up again to provide food and drink to those who needed it; strangers opening their homes to offer a safe place to spend the night; taxi drivers switching off their meter and heading to the arena to take people home; hotel staff creating a safe haven for young people; members of the emergency services who were not on shift heading in to work to provide additional support; strangers jumping in their cars to go and pick up parents and children who were stranded; Steve Jones and Chris Parker, both homeless providing comfort and aid to the injured and seeming quite bemused that anyone would think this to be something special; and queues at the blood bank the following morning to donate blood.
We can only do what we can, in our own way in our own little space in this world. So today, I will accept that all the feelings I have about this awful attack are normal, that they are valid and I will use that energy to try being kinder and more compassionate, I will smile at strangers and be less judgemental. Perhaps it won’t change the world and it certainly won’t stop more terrorist atrocities but it may just make someone else’s day a bit better and who knows, they may then pay it forward and it will help me nurture that little orb of hope.