Thoughts on Manchester 23rd May 2017

A good friend gave me some good advice: “Whose business is it?” he asked, “just let it go”.

It is good advice because I find it too easy to want to get involved – not out of a desire for recognition or glory, but because I want to help.

The trouble is that it is too easy to get in the way, to hamper and hinder, rather than do good.

Hearing about the incident in Manchester last night at a pop concert packed with young people – children even – and their parents, I have the instinct to get out there (it is only seven miles away) and help. But would I help? Could I help? How do I deal with this dilemma … well whose business is it?

There was a well orchestrated response by the emergency services Рpolice, ambulance crews, paramedics and first responders Рand they have trained for this sort of thing. It is their business, not mine. Also there is a practicality Рpublic and private transport is very disrupted as stations and roads are closed. Routes need to be kept clear for ambulances. It really is their business РI would be in the way and cause more problems than I could resolve.

But it is also my business – people in my community, my wider “family” have been affected. There have been fatalities and life-threatening injuries. Peoples lives – family, friends, and strangers – have been affected. Some things will never be the same. There will be trauma and stress response over the days, weeks, months, years as people have to deal with the aftermath.

What can I do? What is my business? What do I need to let go, and what do I keep?

I have shed tears today as I read about friends who are looking for their missing friends, of families who wait for news or even word about their loved ones. Weep with me as I mourn with those who mourn. Rejoice with me as I rejoice with those who have good news. Shakespeare put these words into Juliet’s mouth “O, shut the door! And when thou hast done so, Come weep with me, past hope, past cure, past help.”

I can offer prayer, I can offer words, I can care. I can play sad songs. I can shut the door and weep with you.

But we are not past cure, past help. I can also celebrate – so many reports of the good that the people of the city are doing: offering rooms, drinks, transport – pulling together with the spirit of humanity that says we are strong.

As the news continues to unfold, I am proud of the people of my city, of the emergency services. It is a desperately sad event, but I hope out of it comes some good.

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