Tuesday, 23 May 2017

On innocence

The laughter of children. The joy of going to your first gig. It should not end the way it did last night in Manchester.

A homeless man should not be pulling nails from the faces of innocents.

It is not the time to mock the music of the young. We were all young once. We have all been to gigs our parents probably decreed a racket. Today, instead celebrate the innocence of our early musical tastes, the joy it brought us, the joy it may even still give us.

Today, we suspend whining about the NHS, we give thanks for our emergency services, we praise the police officers for they are all there when we need them most. They are the collective safety net, a civilising force, last night they did all they could to try and save innocent lives.

We were all young once, we have had the privilege of becoming adults, a privilege denied to many last night in Manchester. Every time such murderous outrages happen, it chips away at the innocence of us all, young or old.

Confused children demand explanations and we don't want to stain the clean sheet that is their innocent world view. Yet still parents across the country have had to try and make some sort of sense of the utterly senseless and vile.

The election campaign was  suspended today but tomorrow it must - and should - go on. Life must go on - it's not a cliche but a necessity. Those who seek to destroy the innocent are the ones who seek to stop everything we hold dear - democracy, but also joy, fun, laughter, music, happiness, love in all its forms. 

And innocence.

May we celebrate innocence wherever we see it, in children, animals, nature, in those untouched by cynicism, whether it's the idealistic kid or the delightfully naive grandmother. 

We need to take respite from the hideousness that happens, to have our own moments of innocence. When I left for work this morning, I left my husband sleeping, a well-earned lie-in after a late shift on a newspaper. I did not wake him for he needs respite from awful things. We all deserve that moment of peace, of blissful unawareness of terrible things, even if that state is temporary. 

It is important to remind ourselves that evil is not new, It just takes different forms in different times and we need to find different solutions. We must not be complacent but we must not be hateful either. We must learn from history, we must all take responsibility for being better people, for looking the problems squarely in the eye, for talking to each other, for not living in echo chambers where our own world views go unchallenged.

The "we" to which I refer is not the royal "we", or just my mates or people who happen to agree with me. The "we" is everyone, regardless of who we are, where we've come from, what events and influences and people and places have shaped our world views and led us up to this point.

And at this point, if we are incapable of suspending political opportunism, if our default setting is ugly cynicism, we are dishonouring the innocent lives lost. If there is to be any light at the end of a murky and complicated tunnel, reminding ourselves to celebrate innocence in all its forms is probably a good place to start.

Photography by Edward Zulawski/Flickr

1 comment:

  1. Wise words. I, for one, am at a complete loss to understand why a Muslim extremist would think that youngsters enjoying music (whether we like that music or not) is worth both killing people and ending his own life. That said, we can't insulate children from reality - if we do that, then the terrorists have won. Our response should be show that we have nothing to be ashamed of in our culture (except, obviously for The Sun, the rest of the popular press, top shelf magazines, animal cruelty, poverty, privatisation, racism and the rest) and that, if extremists have a problem with it, perhaps they might like to go and live in Saudi Arabia and see if that suits them better.