“Our lives are not only measured in years, but are measured in the lives of people we touch around us”.

It’s been a terrible couple of days. But of course, you don’t need me to tell you that.

On Monday night, I was about to go to sleep when I decided to click on the Daily Mail app on my phone. At that time, an explosion at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Arena was only after happening, and was marked as breaking news. Initially, I thought this must be a hoax and that the story had been posted in error. Or that perhaps it had happened, but that it was an electrical fault and maybe nobody had been hurt. I hopped out of bed and turned on Sky News, because I thought they were sure to be covering it if it was serious. It was then I learned that a bomb had gone off, detonated by a deranged terrorist, and 22 people were dead. I couldn’t believe it. Who would be so callous as to attack a concert that was predominantly filled with teenagers and children? Nothing bad in life is more horrible than when it threatens children, the most innocent and vulnerable among us. They should be off-limits. But then again, the scum that comprise ISIS – who quickly claimed responsibility for the attack – and their ilk, don’t value anyone or anything, and don’t share this view. And it appears they will not stop, and these attacks will keep coming, until they have wiped this world of everything good. And all for what? Some words written down in a book over a thousand years ago, that they have wildly misinterpreted, and profess to be their religion? I just can’t fathom that.

I think religion can of course be a great help and comfort to good, honest and loving people the world over.  But I also think it has caused a lot of problems in this world. I have always believed that faith and religion are very different things. I see religion as man-made institutions led by people preaching about how we must bow down to gods, all because they have a “plan”. What plan could possibly involve the sexual abuse of children? What plan could possibly involve the segregation of a community of people for the simple fact of them being gay? What plan could possibly allow such abhorrent treatment of women? And what plan could compel a person to walk into an arena, detonate a bomb, ending lives and destroying others forever? Faith to me is the belief in a higher power that we have no real comprehension of, not a god we should fear or worship. And I think that being good and honest in this life is all you need to do to reap the benefits of the next life, if there indeed is one. The men who carry out terrorist atrocities such as these will never gain the riches and virgins they are promised. They are cowards, and if there is a hell, they are most certainly burning in it. And though they hope these attacks will stop the world turning and make us turn on one another, they haven’t.

I can’t even begin to imagine the pain that the families and friends of those who died are going through. Nobody should head out for the night to a concert and never return. Ever since this happened, a quote has been floating around in my head from The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins:

“Our lives are not only measured in years, but are measured in the lives of people we touch around us”.

It may seem like a strange place to draw a quote from in this situation. But the series is similar to the world we live in, in that children are the ones who bear the catastrophic brunt of war, conflict and division. And the quote itself shows that all though the lives of the young victims were short, the lives of everyone they came in contact with were enriched for having known them. But, of course, that will be of little comfort so soon after this appalling attack.

 

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