Manchester Reflection: Fear and shame becomes the violent breath

I want to first apologize for NOT making comments on the Manchester bombing when I wrote yesterday’s blog.  There were several reasons for this, most of which had nothing to do with emotion and everything to do with logistics.

However, 40-hours post bombing (give or take) now, I suppose I do have something to say.

First of all, as you all know – I’m American. I’ve been to the UK twice in my entire life, so it’s not as though I can count it as my home. But somehow, I do feel that way. No, I’ve never lived there, but I think part of my heart remains there regardless. It comes with loving this band, adoring the people I call my UK friends, and some of my favorite people on the planet being British. I love the UK. I love how different it is, yet so similar to “home”. I embrace the cultural differences, and the fact that even while being given a thorough tongue-lashing by a Brit – it STILL  somehow sounds far more polite and refined than when I call someone a jackwagon. Or worse. (probably worse, let’s be honest)  I wasn’t there in the Manchester Arena the night of the incident, I wasn’t in the UK at all. I was here at home, but when I read some of the tweets from friends who live in Manchester, my heart was with you. No, it didn’t happen to me. But somehow, it feels like it did. I witnessed it all unfold with friends online, just as I’m sure many of you reading experienced as well.

Secondly, I’m a concert-goer, just like many (if not all) of you who are reading. I think as Duran-fans, we know the significance of Manchester Arena. As concert-goers, as long time fans, we all know what it is like to be one of those little girls, or little boys, in an arena. As a parent, I know what it is like to send a child to their first concert, or to go along with that child and see their eyes light up as the show begins. As an adult, I know what a concert means to me. It is my safe place. I love music. I adore it. Music is what makes me come alive. The energy flows through my veins like blood, and when I’m at a show – yes, particularly Duran Duran – but any show is like this, it is when I feel like I’m the most ME. To have that space violated rocks me to the core. I know I’m not the only one feeling this way.  It doesn’t make me sad, it makes me angry. Very angry.

In 2015, when the mass shooting at The Bataclan in Paris happened, I was also here at home, working on a poster with my youngest for school. When the news broke, I can remember stopping whatever I was doing and slowly sitting in a chair because I knew the band was in Paris. When they mentioned who had been playing at the Bataclan that night, I felt a shiver go down my spine. It was far, far too close to home for my taste. I can remember frantically tweeting the band and Dom, hoping any one of them would respond. It seemed like hours before someone finally answered, assuring us that they were fine. I think when Dom finally tweeted that he and Martha were fine, I wrote back saying that if I could hug them both right then, I would. And that’s 100% accurate. All I could think about was that they had kids, and that they were both there that night. You’d have thought I knew them personally. I didn’t – and still don’t. I’m just some weird woman from the US to them. But I was relieved, regardless.

I just don’t know if I ever felt really angry about the Bataclan, though. At the time, I was just so relieved. I mean, in some ways it’s silly – the band doesn’t know me. They aren’t my personal friends, but even so, I felt relief knowing they were safe. I wouldn’t have wanted anything horrible to happen to them, in other words. That feeling of relief was far stronger than anger for me at that point. Sure, I was shocked and horrified by the incident – I still am when I think about it, which is exactly why I try not to dwell on it – but I wasn’t angry.

This time though, I’m furious.

This isn’t about being a mama bear, protecting my (or anyone else’s) young. It’s the idea that some asshole decided that his beliefs were more important, more “right”, than the lives of every other soul in that building and surrounding area that night. It is the fact that a concert is the one place where many can go and completely be themselves. It is the belief that music is healing. It is a place to go when the world is closing in, and escape can be found, if only for a few hours. A concert is a place of celebration, of hope, joy, and love. And that night, some idiot tried to ruin that for not only the people who were there in Manchester, but for everyone in the world.  Now, I’m angry.

Yes, I’m also sad for the lives lost and forever changed that night. I have a difficult time thinking about the kids, particularly because I’m a mom, I’m sure. But it’s also because at one time, I was one of them. Part of the reason I still go to concerts is because when I’m there dancing to music, I still feel like one.  My heart hurts when I think about how so many souls went to a concert in Manchester that night and didn’t ever go home. No one should have to die just because they went to a concert.

I’m also angry because no matter how much we say we won’t change the way we live – we are. It’s not about the damn metal detectors or about a simple bag check at the door, either. I see friends openly arguing on social media about whether or not they should continue to allow burkas to be worn on the streets of the UK, or about armed police presence.

I see racism in places that (quite frankly) know better. I’ve been called names purely because I didn’t agree with something someone else said, or because I wanted to stop being angry about an election for one single day so that I could enjoy a freaking holiday with my family. That doesn’t make me a Nazi, or a Nazi sympathizer, people. It makes me FUCKING HUMAN. I can see how our world is changing, and honestly – THAT is what scares me. It’s not the terrorists themselves. I have a better chance of being flattened by a bus than I do being killed by a terrorist. I’m far more afraid of what is to come from an argument between friends about building a wall or allowing refugees into a country than I am about some lunatic shooting up a nightclub.

I’m not about pushing my personal beliefs on others. I’m not going to tell you how I feel about walls, refugees, burkas, or praying to cabbages, for that matter. All I know is that fear is a strong motivator. It coaxes and lures us to act in ways we never thought we might otherwise, and I’m angry that fear is changing our world.

I will leave you with one last thought for today.  I find it hauntingly poetic that the one thing that has the ability to bridge all cultures, languages and beliefs – music – was targeted to display such violence and hate in Manchester.

I don’t have a lot of answers, I just know that fear isn’t going to solve this.

-R

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