In these couple of days following the attack at the Manchester Arena, I’ve seen a lot of what makes Manchester what it truly is. Whenever I focus too intently on the outpourings of kindness, on the explicit generosity and love of those around me, tears well up in my eyes and I find it hard to prevent their escape. But if the goodness that surrounds us is enough to stamp out the hate, then surely my tears are justified.
What interests me now is what happens next; how does life move on after tragedy? I’m travelling today between Manchester and Liverpool, and the atmosphere is tense in Manchester’s largest train station. Armed police stand at the entrances, extra guards patrol within, but the feeling coming off of the people is a sense of hopeful determination. The will of the city cannot be broken even when the victims of this atrocity were some of the city’s youngest citizens, our most innocent and vulnerable.
This is a city whose response to terrorism is cold defiance. They did not give up on their kindness and humanity, they doubled down on it; handing out cups of tea, giving blood, offering free rides, opening up their homes and providing beds for the night. The city gathered, thousands strong, at the Town Hall and declared in one voice that we are not afraid.
Let us not be consumed by hatred and a desire for vengeance; with these things, nothing is ever achieved but more sadness. Let us keep this passionate and positive spirit alive. Let us be the example of how people respond to tragedy with altruistic acts of kindness, with smiles and laughter and love.
This city can do anything. Of that, I’m more sure than ever before.