It takes strength to be gentle and kind…

On the evening on Monday 22nd May, around 21,000 people went to see an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena. 22 didn’t come back.

It’s one of those things that shocks you to your core, all the more powerfully when it takes place where you live. This shouldn’t really be the case. A tragedy is a tragedy is a tragedy. We should mourn them all equally. But that’s human nature, I guess. When we have personal connections to somewhere a terrible thing has happened, that terrible thing hurts even more.

This blog isn’t designed to dwell in sadness though. With Sir Roger Moore passing away and news of Zack Snyder’s daughter committing suicide, there’s been more than enough sadness today. Instead, I want to celebrate a few good things – because there are good things.

First, I want to share the story of how I heard of the news. When the tragedy happened, it was around 10.30 UK time. I was asleep in bed and so didn’t get up to speed until the next morning. Normally, that’d be through news reports, graphic photos and video recordings of the event. But not today.

Today, I heard about it through someone on Twitter. I don’t want to name her as I know she’s an introvert and probably wouldn’t appreciate the attention, but we’ve been following each other for a few months and have a shared love on Disney, writing, reading and a number of other things.

She dropped me a direct message to check I and those I know are okay. It was a lovely gesture that spoke volumes of her compassion. I’ve never met her, and probably never will as she lives on the other side of the Atlantic. I don’t even know her name – she uses a pseudonym on Twitter. But here she was, wishing me well.

In the face of barbarity, here was goodness. Pure and simple goodness. I hope she reads this and I hope she knows how much I appreciated it (I have, of course, thanked her through Twitter).

Secondly on a sillier, here’s a fella in Manchester City Centre shortly after a major shopping mall was evacuated (a false alarm, gladly) dressed as Super Mario and playing music from the game.

Next up, here’s Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot with a bunch of teeny tiny Wonder Women. Look at those smiles.

A Manchester taxi firm gave free rides to those who needed them, offering critical access and the ability for those who attended the concert to get home to their loved ones as quickly as possible.

Next up: two wonderful pieces of writing. The first, from Alice Vincent, looks at why going to a concert is such a critical, and wonderful, rite of passage for kids (and young girls in particular). Secondly, here’s Emily Baker writing for The Pool about why Manchester is a city built on music, dancing, hard-work and community. It contains one of the best concluding paragraphs I’ve read in a while.

And still there’s more! In this clip, a homeless man called Chris Parker who rushed to help victims of the blast talks about his experiences. When people needed help, he refused to turn his back. If only society would do the same for him. A fundraiser has been set up to help him out.

Finally, here’s an image of the last major terrorist atrocity to hit Manchester. It was an IRA bomb in 1996, and it devastated part of the city centre.

But we bounced back…

 

 

So, what’s the underlying point of this? That dickheads exist in the world? Well, yes. Sadly they do. But so too do wonderful, kind, compassionate people who reach out to others, help them, and rebuild.

After a subdued day at work, I’m in one of those moods where all you want is a hug. I live alone sadly, so instead, I have a huge plate of chips and some ketchup. It’s the little things folks…

(PS. If you’re not familiar with their work, the title of this blog is from The Smiths’ I Know It’s Over. “It’s so easy to laugh, it’s so easy to hate / It takes strength to be gentle and kind…”

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