Fighting the Fear: Why we don’t need our Leaders to “Condemn” this.
We don’t need our leaders to stand at microphones telling us to condemn this.
Our thoughts must go out to those both directly and indirectly affected by the terrible, cowardly attack in Manchester. A concert aimed at children and young people? Seriously? It’s bad enough when kids get hit in the crossfire of any conflict (from world wars to domestic arguments), but when they are the targets themselves…
This is a dark, dark act of inhumanity.
But the very worst thing we can do is rush to change our Facebook pictures in an empty act of slacktivism, or listen to emotionally vacuous statements of “condemnation” from political leaders and pop-stars. Such gestures are performed more for self-affirmation than they are to achieve anything.
People can “say prayers” as much as they like — but speaking as an atheist, I’d rather you questioned your callous, fucked-up “God” for an explanation of just what the hell they are up to, letting things like this happen to our children.
What we need now is action, Not knee-jerk lock down of transport, or displays of mass increased security which the organisers of such atrocities get their jollies from. We need commitment to ensure counselling and mental health support will be provided and sustained. Just because most people did not get a physical injury does not mean they do not need help. We must provide this support, and show our strength by responding in the right way.
Let’s all support the police in their investigation: sometimes that means not getting all the answers right away because they might need to keep somethings back in order to ensure our safety, and to aid other arrests/evidence and so on. But let’s not forget the emotional support the officers and other emergency services will need.
Imagine being a paramedic with children of your own, trying desperately hard to save the life of an injured child, whilst not knowing where your own is. These are emotional times and we are emotional beings. We need to recognise the effects this will have on us, address them, and carry on with out lives in light of the needs we have.
We must plan to support those who need that support — our friends, family, work colleagues today, all looking at their phones, nervously. Give them space. Let them go out for that extra cigarette break without that judgemental look. Forgive the expletive when they spill their coffee for the third time. Above all, don’t patronise them, but a smile isn’t much to ask.
People don’t need pity — they need time to process what has happened. Don’t assume by not giving them work, or by ignoring a previously set deadline that your are helping. It might be that these things are helping.
Let us not complain about the almost inevitable extra delays on transport if there are some road blocks or cancellations. You might be 10 minutes later getting home today — but at least you are getting home. And when you hear sirens and see blue lights in a rear view mirror, get out of the damn way. That could be anything from an unconnected event, to a patient being rushed, or new blood or organ supplies being transported. Or if you’re waiting at a crossing and you hear a siren, do not start to cross: wait. You can miss one green man.
At least you are getting to see more green men.
It has been good to see Jeremy Corbyn follow suit in pausing all campaigning today, and sharing his thoughts for all those affected. There is something about him as a leader, and I have no problem expressing my bias, that sounds somewhat more sincere.
So let us be proactive in fighting the fear by responding to it in a measured, sensitive manner, but giving no audience to hyperbole of “terror” and exaggerated media narratives. Let’s not drool over social media viral mobile phone footage, which does nothing but to serve the purpose of the attacker. We should prepare for a nation to be mourning those lost and steeling ourselves for one quality that we are internationally renowned for: our stiff upper lip; our determination to be unaltered; and our steadfast ability to survive the biggest tests.
We don’t need our leaders to stand at microphones telling us to condemn this. We need them to pull their fingers out and show compassion.