To avoid emotional paralysis I turn to my blog for an outlet and some calm. Steady steady, you are a grown-up: pointless hand-wringing will do no good.
On days of shock and outrage Twitter gives a blow-by-bomb account; we are all journalists now. Most of the country woke up to the news. I heard it in the wee small hours and in my sleepy state kept wondering if I’d been having a nightmare.
What I learned: apparently late last Monday night a man detonated some sort of nuts and nails device in the box-office foyer area of a major venue in Manchester; positioning himself adjacent to 21,000 mainly girls and mums enjoying a teeny-bopper night out; he killed himself and 22 (including an 8 year old little girl) and physically maimed 60.
He caused carnage and chaos and succeeded in bringing a city of diverse communities together in crisis as taxi drivers switched off their meters, hotels and locals opened their doors. 60 publicly-funded ambulances alongside armed police arrived within minutes. People gave blood.
Every woman and child had been searched by security on their way into the auditorium, each stick of lipstick inspected. Their murderer, armed with explosives, simply sauntered unchallenged into the public entrance hall (holding a suitcase reports later suggested).
I get that wherever the security is set up there will be the world beyond that line but it still sticks in my craw.
City dwellers will now see soldiers positioned at significant venues and a higher number of armed police will be on the streets. The ‘threat level’ is raised to ‘critical’.
These atrocities create fear, panic, loathing, upset. They also inspire people in a weird way. People get the opportunity to be amazing and kind and good.
Bombings are going off all over the world of course. It’s been a major news item from various countries around the world my entire life. I do not want to feel more grief for the death of victims in this country compared to other places, because we are all members of the human race living on just one planet together. But it is shocking nonetheless.
I shake myself out of a feeling of dispair. Such situations can capture people so that we all become hostage by freezing and becoming ineffective in our own lives.
It was tempting to fall down but I pulled myself up and into action.
It’s because the mundane everyday seems at odds with the harrowing anguish being experienced by those directly effected. But I know that keeping calm and carrying on is the only response.
And so I do so, sorting out the day-to-day details that my own children are relying on. Order more heating oil. Pick up and clean a ‘new to me’ picnic set for future happy excursions. Call the washing machine company AGAIN to get progress on a repair job now 6 weeks old.
I box up old videos and start to tackle my messy guest room. Family is coming to stay soon. It feels strange. I realise I’m numbing myself. My tears and sadness won’t change or improve anything. But attending to the details of my family’s life will.
Acting out of love is all the weapon I have against this hatred.
I pull food from the freezer and begin to plan a meal. There are bills to pay and I’m interviewing someone for a job this afternoon.
The position available is to help local rural communities work together on ideas to improve their lot. It’s what is known in the trade as ‘community engagement’.
It seems somewhat trite, today of all days, but I know that disengagement can lead in some extreme cases to murder and mayhem. And this reminds me that things are not so futile. All our small efforts working with others do in tiny ways make things better.
I’m contacted by a grandmother whose daughter has been told her unborn child may have Down’s Syndrome and they are desperately worried.
I do what needs doing, making use of social media to help connect those who feel desperate with those who have knowledge and can help.
And I wait for the return of my teenagers; sad for those whose children never went home today.