Manchester on a glorious sunny day just over a week ago when I attended a meeting at the Cathedral (image). Each time I drive into the city I use a carpark out beyond the Cathedral, walk under the train bridge at Victoria Station and past walls which are the site of Manchester Arena. Little did I realise that just a few days after my visit the news of a terrorist attack at the Arena following the closing song by the American singer Ariana Grande would come to dominate our media.
As I travelled up and down Lancashire between seeing people yesterday I listened to a lot of news on the radio – shared between Radio 4, Heart, Classic FM and Smooth radio. The reportage was relentless, with interviews with those who had been there, those who had travelled back 13 hours later, reporters who tirelessly asked “How are you coping?” In amongst all of the strongly worded rhetoric of politicians and police spokespersons there were questions and words that disturbed me as the character of the terrorist involved was scrutinised. In particular, that the terrorist was “mentally disturbed” which thus explained their actions.
As a nation we have sought to highlight the mental health issues which many suffer from, and the need especially for our young people of putting adequate NHS resources in place to help them. Making such an (alleged) association of the terrorist’s mental state as a cause for the way he behaved was not heard well by one person I spoke to who understands the struggle of mental health issues in their life. I hope that some of the rhetoric fades in the analysis we will hear on the media in the days to come and does not damage the positive work that has gone on through the media to enable us to better support those with a particular set of health issues.
Please pray for:
- all the families of those grieving the loss of their children and family members through the atrocity of the attack at Manchester Arena on Monday evening
- all those who have been hospitalised and are critically ill, and for their families and the staff who are supporting them at this time
- the emergency services and investigating teams that have the harrowing task of working at the Arena to understand more about the details of the terrorist attack
- the work of faith communities and leaders in Manchester seeking to draw people together, and to overcome the potential divisive effects of this attack
- the words that we all use, that they may be used to bring Peace and healing in all our relationships within families and communities.