Parents of Manchester children unite in grief with Muslim parents - Michael's essay
We grownups have been killing each in many different ways through several millennia over issues great and small and we will probably continue in that endeavour. But in this century, the targeting has shifted. Now we kill the young.
The children in their dying used to be called collateral damage, a cold, mechanical term which could apply to a highway traffic accident. There is nothing collateral about these deaths. They are meant to happen.
The murder venues in Manchester and in Paris, are places when the young gather to be with friends, to be free for a few hours. Places of noise and crowds and young laughter. Target-rich environments.
The vocabulary of terror, the words -- senseless, cowardly, vicious, appalling, sickening --- are all horrifically descriptive in an almost scripted way. The words and the language of grief are disturbingly familiar; our thoughts and prayers…..
And so on.
It is devastating beyond imagining to lose a child to accident or disease. But to have a child murdered, targeted specifically by a terrorist, must derange a parent in a particularly cruel way.
In the children of Manchester, we recognize our own children. But we don't often think about the thousands of Muslim children who have been ground up in the terror mills. Last year in Afghanistan, 923 children were killed, a 25 per cent increase over 2015. Whether the adults killing them are Boko Haram, or Al Qaeda, or Taliban or Western coalition forces, the Muslim children continue to die.
They step on land mines while playing, they are caught in a cross fire, shot down at checkpoints, run over by military convoys.
The young who survived the Manchester bombing will be scarred for life. Guardian columnist Louise Nevin was 10 in 1976, when a bomb planted by the provisional IRA exploded at an exhibition she and her mother were attending in London. No one was killed, but 84 people were injured, many seriously. For years after the bombing, she had to cancel any trips to London because of violent fits of nausea and vomiting. Her school chum, Tanya, was subjected to panic attacks. She became obsessed with unattended packages. To this day, she will sit only in an aisle seat in a theatre.
We like to think that we can protect our children and for most of their young lives, we do. But we want to block their ears and cover their eyes when the horror strikes. But we can't.
In 1889, W.B. Yeats wrote a poem called "The Stolen Child". Each stanza ends with:
"Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping, than you can understand."