It’s been a little more than a week since the tragic bombing in Manchester. As difficult as that is to process and comprehend, the humanity that has been shown over the last number of days – from a homeless man laying his begging for spare change aside to help victims, to the Queen visiting victims in hospital, to Harry Styles phoning up a victim with horrific injuries to tell her he loved her, and to thank her for her courage. There have been countless other examples of generosity, and love – not just by the citizens of Manchester, but the world.
In the initial days Ariana Grande had been silent – presumably trying to deal with the shock. And a shock it would be. It was her show, where and when it happened. I’m sure there is a part of her that can’t help but feel partly responsible. But we also presume she was taking some time to craft the most appropriate response.
In this ‘Insta-Age’ of Twitter, FB and Instagram, a thoughtful response fashioned with the benefit of pause is important. There are too many people shouting their mouths off online and over social media without even thinking. That yahoo that seized upon the opportunity to spew disparaging vitriol about Grande’s music at the expense of 22 precious souls now dead, and dozens injured and disfigured in the most horrific way imaginable – within seconds of it happening – is testament to the fact there are still those among us who speak before they think, and distribute the coldest, most cruel and thoughtless hatred just to increase their social media traffic.
Grande remained silent until she, and those around her, processed this unthinkable tragedy that happened literally in front of her. Then she released, just the other day, an open letter to her fans, to the victims and their families, and to Manchester, to offer her support and her heart, and a benefit concert at a date and time to be announced.
Well that day is this Sunday, and the venue is the Old Trafford cricket pitch in Manchester.
And just some of her friends are coming: Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Niall Horan and Coldplay. That’s just a partial list. And you can imagine that in the coming days there will be more – many more. Artists who care about humanity, love their fans and care about them as individuals, rather than just numbers on a ticket or at the end of a download – who want to help, and also make a statement about terrorism.
The people who are supporting Grande in this are A-List entertainers. They’re busy people. But they’re either rescheduling, or making themselves available for what is going to be a pivotal event, and a moment in entertainment history.
There have been many moments such as this over the years…remember Tears Are Not Enough? Remember Band-Aid, and Bob Geldof? Willie Nelson and Farm-Aid? Yes, artists have come together in the past and they will again. It’s sad, in a way that they have to – as this means there will be more crises in the future that will bring them together like the Manchester bombing of a week ago.
Remember our Flood Relief concert of 2012? Everybody came. Gordon Lightfoot got up from his sick bed to help raise a million bucks in a week.
But that also provides hope: in that as often as we are faced with unspeakable and unimaginable terror at the hands of madmen or unstoppable forces of nature, there are those who will step up to remind us to keep strong, embrace hope, and not give in to fear.
As much as we tend to malign musicians – some big names – who are at once gifted and talented – and sometimes childish and even coddled – they also have the capacity to step up and give of themselves and their gifts to support one another, and humankind overall, in times f crisis.
Bravo to them all.