PTF: Manchester

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It’s happened again. Terror has once again struck our would and changed our lives. I have seen something a little different this time though, and it makes me a little unsettled. Finger pointing where there shouldn’t be…at the people.

Yesterday, after an Ariana Grande concert finished in Manchester, a suicide bomber set off an IED and, as of now, killed 22 people and wounded 59 others. As this story is still developing, some of the facts may change as more information is released. However, I am writing to the best of the knowledge that I have right now. It is being treated as a terrorist attack. A terrorist attack in a place that should be joyful, fun, and love to everyone. Who doesn’t like going to a concert?  Seeing an artist you like literally create their art in front of your very eyes. It’s spellbinding and amazing and the only thing one should be thinking of while leaving is how amazing it was. How worth it, it was.

I’m not going to lie, I am comfortable enough with myself to admit that I like Ariana Grade. I even like (okay…love) her brother, Frankie, who was on Big Brother and has a quasi-career of his own. When Ariana Grande came to town, I wanted so badly to go to her concert, I just didn’t have the money. If she comes again, and I do have the money, I will go to her concert. Then, when it’s over, my friends and I (as we have done to various other concerts) will walk back to our cars- not fast as traffic is going to be a nightmare- with our eardrums still buzzing, hoarse voices from yelling and singing along, and smiling from a great night. I wouldn’t care about the demographic as Adriana Grande is a pop star and appeals to a somewhat younger crowd. She did have a show on Nickelodeon and has had multiple appearances at Disney, so tweens and teens really like her, as do some adults. Whether you like her music or not, please agree that the girl has got some pipes on her. Anyway, you are leaving your concert with the post-concert high, and suddenly a bomb goes off. A bomb goes off in what people are referring to as a soft area….an area not really covered by high security. I mean, most people don’t try to smuggle guns or bombs OUT of a concert. Now reality hits.

An IED went off by what reports are saying was a suicide bomber. This was not in the venue itself, but right outside where parents were waiting to pick up their children from the concert, where people were exiting the concert. A bomb went off killing 22 people and injuring 59 more. Why?  We have no idea.

Here is the part that I am struggling with a little bit. I can’t take my eyes off the TV. I want to know what happened. I keep checking my Twitter and my Facebook because I care. Yet this time, I find more and more people saying not to do that. Don’t watch the news, it will just make you more afraid of terrorism. Don’t watch the news because seeing the same pictures over and over again will make your brain think that terror is worse than it actually is. Don’t watch the news, it will just give you more anxiety. It even went so far as I saw one person’s YouTube video on Twitter saying that watching the news is actually increasing terrorism fear. His whole point was the difference between terrorism stories and terrorism statistics, I guess a variation of Point the Finger. He points the finger at people like me. People who can’t take their eyes off the news when tragedies like this happen saying that I am making it worse and convincing my brain to be more afraid of terror because I am listening to all of the stories. He then goes on to say we should instead focus on the statistics and that there is almost a zero percent chance of a terrorist attack happening to you or someone you know.

I get his point, I really do. We can’t go around living in fear that a terrorist attack is going to happen and kill us. If we did that, we would never get to experience these great concerts, or night clubs, or cities. However, I don’t necessarily agree with him. First, then I am one of the almost zero percent who knows someone who was in a terror attack. I am one of the people on the list of cities rocked by terror. I don’t want to be a statistic. I don’t want the victims of this bombing in Manchester to be a statistic, or the Pulse victims, or the Paris attacks, Boston, Brussels, San Bernardino, 09/11 or any thing else to be a statistic. I want us to be the stories. I want people to hear the stories and get upset and get angry, and fight for change. After Pulse, one of the best things was the Facebook filter that said “We Are Orlando” and a loud, stirring response from the community:  We stand united.  Today, we are Manchester. Those were tweens, and children killed. What did they do to anyone?  They were just starting their journey to find themselves….and then it was over. So, internet guy, no. These attacks are not about the statistics, it’s about the stories. Every single person at that concert has a story, and it’s okay for them to tell it.

Some may point the finger back at me saying that I am just encouraging fear and anxiety, and let me tell you, I have suffered from anxiety my whole life, but if we don’t hear the stories, if we don’t get angry, if we don’t stand united… They win. And the one thing I have over anxiety is competitiveness. We win. It’s not an easy road. There are bad days and good days, and all the days in between. Grief and depression are not easy things to handle, and that’s okay as long as you eventually get back up.

I also want to point the finger at some of the haters out there. People who are sitting behind a computer screen talking crap about Ariana Grande saying that she is making this all about her when 22 people are dead. Don’t do that. She is only 23 years old and people who came out to see her died in a horrible, unthinkable way. She is allowed to grieve too. She has a concert in London coming up that people are asking if she is going to cancel. If she does, is she letting the suicide bomber or whatever group did this win because she is being scared and/or cautious?  If she doesn’t, is she being insensitive to the people who were killed?  Would people be afraid to show up?  That’s a lot of pressure for one 23 year old. I’m also sure that she has a lot of survivor’s guilt considering people who came to her concert ended up dead, injured, or emotionally scarred for life. That’s a normal reaction.  Again, whether you like her or not, she didn’t ask for this, she didn’t want this, and should be allowed to heal in whatever way feels right to her.

A lot of talk about public safety has come up, too, and I am afraid that there really isn’t an answer. If a suicide bomber wants to blow himself up and cause terror, there is a good chance he (or she I should say) is going to find a way to do it. We can increase security, but in this case, it was outside the venue. Could it have been stopped?  Could the Paris attacks been stopped?  We all agree that these attacks could have been much worse, but are we all just holding our breath waiting for the other shoe to drop?

I know it’s not much and it doesn’t take the pain of what happened away, but I am sending love to everyone in Manchester. These coming days are only going to get worse until they can start the healing process.

No matter what anyone says, heal in your own way and in your own time. You are not alone. We are listening to your stories, and when we see the media pictures, we don’t look at the evil of what happened, we look at the people helping.

A. Imus
A. Imus

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