This morning I woke up at first light, to a smiling picture of an eight-year old girl from Manchester. I’ve tried the entire day to not think about her, not write, not dwell, not tear up. I’m not a mother, I’m not related to her, and well, don’t thousands of children die each day in various parts of the world, including where I live? No call for me to be emotional.
I’ve also thought about the 22-yr old who thought exploding himself in lethal hatred, nuts, bolts, and nails was the way to exit the world.
I’ve thought of their journeys to the venue– the girl with elders, possibly her parents, or parents of friends. All dressed up, full of smiling, laughing, bright expectation. I see her skipping, running to the area, I see her shrieking at her idol on the large screens.
And I see the man, dressing himself in death, his head a beehive of hatred, of visions of a life beyond, of unimaginable darkness disguised as light.
I can’t turn away from that moment of shrapnel, panic, blood, death, screams, stampedes, keening, prayers, sirens, last breaths, the reek of burning flesh.
I’ve constantly thought about these two: no way can a hate-filled being be compared to an innocent, but the fact is both reached there, that one place.
These incidents will recur, again and yet again, till we figure out the poisonous alchemy that changes the brains of young men into killers– the belief systems they’re fed, the money that changes hands, the normalisation of violence, the nightmarish transformation of a man into a killing machine– these are aspects of humanity, no matter how much we deny it.
Violence has been part of the human make-up from the very beginnings of our evolution, and despite all the progress we’ve made, we still murder our children in cold blood.
And here I am, at end of the day, unable to sleep, thinking of this killer and that girl. Of the adults who were a joy to their mothers, and their children. I think of this murderer who also had a mother– a man who was, until yesterday, just another walking the streets, quietly carrying within him an entire snakepit of rancor and murderous rage. I see so many answers, the usual suspects bandied about: fundamentalism, toxic masculinity, cultural differences.
Personally, I don’t have an answer.
I’m helpless, filled with despair and dread. I can only think of the two mothers, one who suffered the horrific loss of her child, and the other, who will be known as the one who gave birth to a mass-murderer, till the day she dies, and beyond. I wish all of us, irrespective of gender, were given a mother’s heart– then we would not kill. During my meditation, one of the chants I focus on is : I’m a mother of this universe. Because when you’re a mother, you create, you nurture, you protect, you love. You become love.
Before I head to bed, I send this out— may mother-love spread its wings, may it embrace us all, and may it put out the fires of hatred, violence and malice seething in this world. May we celebrate and embrace our differences, may eight-year-olds never lose lives to murderers again, and may we always find light in the darkest of times and places.
Have you heard of the Manchester bombing? What have your thoughts been all of today? What would you say to these two mothers?
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