This may be one of the most important lessons we can ever teach our children. Many people believe they must shield their children from the tragic events that took place this week in Manchester. I urge you to reconsider. In an emotional plea at the Bury Vigil, Olivia Campbell’s mum asked us not to let her child become a victim. Let us not let those who died in this terrible tragedy become victims either. Because if we talk about it, we cannot forget. We can shine light in this dark place. If we talk about it our children will learn of this wonderful place, this incredible city. If we talk about it they will learn how we came together in strength, in love, and in support. How we came together; a City United, and stood strong for them, our children, the next generation. 22 people died for our city, for our children, for the next generation; let us never forget them.
My dear, precious child,
I wish I could shield you from all of this hatred, shelter you from the evil you see and protect you from the pain you hear about. I wish I could but I can’t. We must open our ears and our hearts. We must listen, talk and learn. We must cry, comfort and grow. We must look for the light, the rainbow and the stars and leave this darkness behind us. We must search for the positive, see the hope and hold on to the strength. For we are strong on our own but we are even stronger together. And together we can get through anything. There are so many lessons I have to teach you but this, this is the hardest. I have to teach you that there are terrible people in this world and that unimaginable things will happen. I have to teach you that we may never understand, be able to see reason, or believe that these things can and have happened. I have to teach you that your job isn’t to reason or understand, it’s to learn and move forward. I have to teach you to look for the positive in every situation even when it seems impossible. I have to teach you to care and love, to hold and have strength, and to have hope even when hope is lost. Because that is how we win. Because even in tragedy there is hope; for in heartbreak there is love, in pain there is assistance, in suffering there is support, and in hurt there is comfort. And above all there is strength. There is strength in each and every wonderful community and there is strength in abundance in this city. We see it everywhere. It’s in the kindness the man who has no home extends when he thinks of someone else and cradles the broken, it is in the woman who shields the young and offers them shelter and cares as any mother would even though they are not her own, it is in the emergency services who run into the firestorm and brave the pain to tend to the wounded, it is in the police force who work overtime to try and keep the rest of us safe, it is in the mother who cries for her baby not knowing whether she will ever see them again, it is in the son and daughter who are searching for answers and finding none, it is in the doctors and nurses and all the hospital staff who work non stop without a break to save, mend and tend to the suffering, it is in the shop-workers who bring food and water, it is in the taxi drivers who ferry whoever, wherever, whenever, its in the caring who donate their blood to save the lives of others, it’s in the helpful who bring toiletries and clothes and teddies for the children, it is in the pink balloons set off by so many to demonstrate solidarity in the face of adversity. It is in the communities who have gathered at vigils; strangers brought together and bonded by their love for each other and this city. It is in the crowds who swarm to the city centre despite being scared, nervous, worried and anxious. It is in the flowers and cards that have been laid by loved ones, friends and family. It’s in the army who’ve been drafted in to support the police force. It’s in the community who hug and kiss and cry and support each other, it’s in everyone and it is everywhere because we are Manchester and we won’t be beaten.
So my dear, beautiful, precious child – believe me when I say there is so much more good in the world than bad. I cannot shield you from the bad and nor do I want to because in doing so you will miss the most important lesson of all, that when all hope may seem lost it is not lost at all; if you look hard enough you will see the glimmer of light – the stars in the night sky, the rainbow after a storm, the sun as the clouds part. That is love, that is strength, that is hope. And if I shield you from that well then what is there left to teach you?