I see this picture and weep. We all are. This is Georgina Callander, one of 22 innocent victims killed in Manchester last night and the first victim identified.
This is the face of innocence. All she did was attend a music concert given by her favourite artist in the world. Just a kid, who bought a ticket for the promised two hours of joy.
And then came two milliseconds of terror. Twenty-two lives lost, dozens injured, most seriously.
We may eventually discover how this happened. But we will never, ever…ever understand. It is beyond comprehension. It is beyond humanity, with the possible exception of the generosity and empathy of Manchester’s citizens who offered help, shelter, food, a taxi, a bed, a hug – anything for anyone who was there, and survived.
I don’t mind telling you I can barely function today. Nor do I mind telling you how angry I am that these incidents keep happening – terror, fear, hurt, pain, lives lost or maimed emotionally and physically at the hands of twisted, religious zealots who have no respect for human life. And yet those who plan these atrocities continue to walk the earth, to breath, eat, and sleep. They live. They’re not in pain. They do, it seems, revel in some twisted satisfaction of winning at the expense of lovely, innocent souls who have no such sinister motives.
It’s not fair.
This tests all of us, and on many different levels. This tests our optimism. Our trust. Our hope for the world, for a better tomorrow. It tests our faith.
I’m afraid for our children, who keep witnessing such events without any foundation by which to process this. Our kids are already afraid for the future of a world that is constantly brought home to them in real time through social media.
And we’re afraid for this world we’ve brought our kids into.
When will this stop? We don’t know.
How can we preserve our optimism, and our hope? I don’t know that either.
I do know that I’m having increasing trouble with the idea of playing songs, giving the weather, smiling to strangers and saying hello, and all those other things I’m supposed to do in the everyday, and those peaceful, knowing aspects of a life I cherish but also take for granted, especially in light of what others in the world are being subjected to.
I’m having trouble staying strong.
But I know I must. We must. To weaken in the face of this, is giving in. Theresa May, the Prime Minister of Britain who reminds me so much of Maggie Thatcher, has it right. She is strong, unwavering, decisive, determined.
And so must we – as far away as we are. But then, we’re not far away at all. We’re all just a couple of hours on a plane from everywhere. My kids have been to England. Faith Dickinson was in London (not Manchester) just last week. My wife has family there. The world is in our backyard, so to speak.
So what do we do?
Hope. Pray. Seek out the optimism amidst the fear and despair. Maintain our resolve, as human beings, to respect one another – as individuals, and as human lives. To respect life, the most precious gift we have. Some in this world, don’t respect life – and are willing to throw it away and take innocent victims with them, in the pursuit of something I will never understand.
But now is not the time to let off the gas. Instead, we must press on – press harder – in life, in love, in respect, in hope and conviction, in friendship and generosity, and in prayer.
We can’t let them win.
God bless the innocent victims of Manchester. May we hold them, their families and their communities in our hearts during this time, and always.