I woke up slowly this morning, listening to the birds singing outside the window. They’re still singing, fourteen and a half hours later, as I type this. I opened Instagram, and scrolled, and this was my first alert to what had happened in Manchester last night. I checked my emails for my morning digest from the Guardian and there it was. And today, I’ve mainly been angry. I’ve seen lots of posts about praying for Manchester, and I’ve seen lots of posts about how resilient the British are, and it’s all true but I’m still really angry.
- I’m angry that one man – and so, so many men – had been sufficiently unloved and unseen so as to become warped by someone’s ideology of hatred and fear-mongering causing him to act in the way he did.
- I’m angry that one human being – and so, so many human beings – could be persuaded that attempting to blow up as many parents and their children as possible was a way to improve the world.
- I’m angry that he died, in the explosion that caused so many deaths and injuries, and that he will never know (in this lifetime, at least) how wrong he was, and how misguided those thoughts were.
- I’m angry that so many lives were abruptly ended, and so many more shattered, because of one man’s urge to belong.
- I’m angry that in this breath-stealingly beautiful world, war can invade children’s lives to such a degree. Not in England but all over the world, and with a myriad of devastating effects.
- I’m angry that terrorism is, as Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, and Robin Morgan posted earlier on Facebook, so gendered. We don’t see women blowing up children and their parents nearly so often as we see it of men.
- I’m angry that this may potentially push more people toward prejudice and discord within British communities – more dangerous than ever with an election so close to hand, and with the Tories so depressingly close to victory.
So tonight I stood in the garden in Dave’s arms and I let it all flood through the soles of my feet and asked the earth to take it away. I’m not a Christian but I thought of the lilies of the fields and how sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof, and I thought of the everlasting arms, and the earth that cradles us. And I thought of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet which is one of the few writings I hold to be truly sacred:
“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you. And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls. For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.”
I thought of what the woman who cuts my hair said to me this evening when we were discussing our children’s schools: how her children, and others their age, no longer see skin colour as something worthy of comment. I thought of my daughter and her friends, of which I think only one identifies as cis/straight, and I recalled that it takes adults to teach children how to hate one another based on religion, or skin tone, or sexuality, or any other difference. It’s difficult not to be angry at such blatant stupidity. (And speaking of which, “evil losers,” Trump, really? Now there’s an embarrassing human being.) And I sent out a prayer, a thought, a wish that the youngest generation learns enough from itself – from its many strengths and battles – to get smart enough to put an end to the insanity of its predecessors, to stop the stupidity, and to find a place where anger becomes rage: a rage against children dying needlessly, a rage against people being sucked up into unloving ideologies, a rage against Us and Them; a rage that burns away all the needless crud around the edges until there is only the core left. The core that we are all linked, that we are all in this together, that we are better working together than against one another.