Manchester Strong

May 26, 2017

To perfectly put into words the feelings towards a tragedy such as that in Manchester is an impossible feat.

It hurts me to write about this as much as I’m sure it hurts to read about it. However, it would be more of an injustice to remain silent, to avoid the conversation and allow the incident to weaken us.

As I, along with the rest of the world, still struggle to truly comprehend the destruction of a place of utter peace, where young people flocked for the nights of their lives and to bask in the glory of music, we must come together rather than allowing terror to push us apart. We must mourn and grieve and cry and wish for a better world, but we must also stand strong, as friends, as family, as music-lovers, as good-hearted people with eyes filled with love, not blinded by hate.

Though nothing can make light of an event as terrible and selfish as such, what has brought me the slightest sense of peace is this: Many of the victims were fans who were the happiest versions of themselves in their final moments. They were on top of the world, fresh from watching their favorite artist generate an environment free of negativity. It was a night well spent, but with lives cut way too short. 22 gone but never, ever forgotten.

Concerts are a place of serenity, of love, of everything good, and to have something as beautiful as that targeted is heartbreaking. Numerous artists have fought against allowing the safe-place and wholesome atmosphere of live music to be tarnished by an act of hate.

Harry Styles, whose hometown is a short distance from Manchester, turned his concert in Mexico into a short acoustic set with a moment of silence to remember the victims and their families. “We have a choice every single day we wake up of what you can put in the world, and I ask you to please choose love every single day,” he said.

His words spoke to me, simply because they were words of love, and what is most needed in the world everyday, especially during a time like this, is love. Love, with everything you are, with everything you can, with the strength to overpower any hate within your path. Love, love, love, love, love.

If I could quadruple the love in my heart and singlehandedly use it to rid the entire world of hate, I would do it in a heartbeat. But it is as a people, different and yet one in the same, that we will triumph. We must help each other in the healing process and confide in our love of freedom, joy and humanity. For many, this is done through the connectivity of music.

Shawn Mendes paid tribute to Ariana Grande and the victims and described the power of music. “Music is the one of the very rare things in life that can bring people together in a way that words cannot describe, but we can only feel,” he said. “And something that important is something that is worth protecting and never, never let it be broken.”

The message that should be gathered is the following: In the same way music can bring people together, music can heal. We can never repair the damages, but what we should not do is allow this to let us live in fear, because to live in fear is to lose the fight. Never be afraid to live and enjoy everything in the process. When knocked down, we will rise, stronger than ever.  We will rise Manchester strong.

To take things further, Ariana Grande fans around the world have organized meet-ups to show their respects for those lost, such as one where pink balloons, now a symbol of love and joy, were released.

In the darkest of times, music and the community it manifests is a light that may be dimmed but never fully put out. In the darkest of times, the good of humanity must make every effort to shine brighter than the bad.

As I struggled with what to write, my mind repeatedly took me to part of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s acceptance sonnet at the Tony Awards. I believe it is a message that perfectly expresses everything we should strive for.

“Now fill the world with music, love and pride,” he said.

And that’s exactly what we will do, together.

-Nisa Ayral (@nisaayral)

Feature Image by Leslie Crow

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