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In Response to the Manchester Attack, We Must Promote Unity & Tolerance

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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I had never ventured outside of my birth state before 2005. But that summer, my mother had finally decided to overcome her fear of traveling to take my sister and me to England. I still remember running through the airport at 6 in the morning, clutching onto my teddy bear, and hoping desperately to catch the flight. Fortunately or unfortunately, we did. On the morning of the 7th, we took a westbound Circle Line train heading to Paddington to play giant chess and take canal boat rides.

We went in June.

One month later, with the same temperatures and morning traffic, on the same route, a bomb exploded. And then two others in the trains, and one on a double-decker bus in a square with a statue of Gandhi and memorials for the victims of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 52 people died and over 700 were injured. Coordinated bomb blasts brought untimely ends to students and parents' lives alike, and a mixture of anger and sadness permeated the world.

I was distressed. One of the bombers was my sister’s age. All were born and raised in Britain, and about a month after the calamity, al-Qaeda claimed responsibility. There was no specific target on July 7, 2005. There have been several rationales, but there is no clear answer to the painful, heart wrenching-question: "why?"

Twelve years later, I asked this question again. Ariana Grande concerts are predominantly attended by kids and teens. An 8-year-old girl died. According to The Washington Post, places of art, such as Ariana's concert, are marked by vulnerability. Movie theaters and nightclubs are targeted for the same reason. Yet I believe that targeting concerts—venues for amusement and relaxation—as The New York Times remarked, is “incomprehensible” and upsetting. This senseless violence needs to stop. There is no one model for why people or certain groups turn to terrorism. Perhaps there is no possible answer, and that is the worst part. We will be forced to continue asking "why, why, why?" until there are no "why’s" left, and only despair.

Certain organizations aim to inflict as many casualties as possible, others aspire to attract international attention and gain recognition for their actions. Terrorism often has a political aim. Many groups recruit “soldiers” in their endless war against injustice, promising to turn them into heroes. According to NPR, it is rarely religion per se that is used as a motivation, but rather “self-radicalization.” In times of humiliation and anger, radicalization can be a compelling path. But it is not a moral one—one must keep in mind the distinction between story and fact. Terrorism thrives on fear and kills civilians.

We do not remember triacetone triperoxide and hydrogen cyanide, the chemicals used in these attacks, but we cannot forget this: 9/11. 7/7. 5/22. There are certain dates in history that are forever ingrained into our minds. This cycle: the initial announcement, and then fragmented pieces of information—the suspects, the investigations, the victims, the aftermath, and then, we wait. History barely has time to mention that in the aftermath of the Manchester attack, several Muslim cab drivers escorted concertgoers home at no charge.

In recognizing the past, we must also move forward. As the world grows more politically polarized, unity is rare; thus, it is important to note that terrorism is near-universally agreed upon as being “barbaric." We must build resilience to radicalization. This occurs through preaching the ideals of moderatism. We must strive to ameliorate the divisiveness and intolerance that has come to characterize political dialogue by arming young people with an appreciation for diverse political opinion and a profound concern for the future of their respective communities, nations, and the world at large.


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