01 Jun One Love Manchester: The Unity of Strength
This Sunday, the One Love Manchester benefit concert will take place at the Emirates Old Trafford cricket stadium to raise money for the families of the 22 people who were killed by the suicide bomber at the Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena just under two weeks ago.
One of the concert organisers, Festival Republic’s Melvin Benn told Billboard. “ The idea to host this event came from Ariana. She was very traumatized after the attack, but it was very important to her to support the victims and show a level of defiance that stands up to this bloodlust and ambivalence towards innocent individuals and tells the terrorists that they are not going to stop us.”
The tragedy of that night will never be forgotten but the strength and unity of the humanity shown by that community has been the strength against one person’s actions. The couple who sat with the young girl and held her as she passed away, the homeless man who helped to save others, – there are so many individual stories of humble heroism of people who thought of others before themselves, and enabled this unity of strength.
Within an hour of the attack, the people of Manchester were linking on social media to help to find missing people, offering a bed for the night as well as hot drinks and food, taxi drivers were giving free lifts out of the city, and over fifty young teens were led to safety at a hotel by a concert goer.
Less than 24 hours later, the vigil in Manchester reflected that strength in numbers as thousands supported each other and stood proudly and with defiance. Manchester would not be held in fear. Their Manchester Run would continue as planned last Sunday, concerts would continue, sports would take place as usual.
The strength in unity of the people of Manchester and now far beyond fits with the integral part of believing in a goal, a mantra, a reason to work together – our “WHY” – why we buy into that goal with a belief and with passion. Everyone involved has stood strong in solidarity for this city – as named by Ariana Grande – One Love Manchester.
Manchester is not the most famous city in the UK, but many people all over the world have an affinity with the city through their support of its football teams and its music. People adopt those teams, and can carry on that support through generations even if they live thousands of miles away. When people say Manchester is their home town, it may not be the place where they physically live, but is the place that makes them feel at home. Its sport, music, and culture form people’s sense of belonging, being part of the family, their home. That essence of One Love Manchester sums up that “Why”, that feeling of being as One altogether standing strong for Manchester.
Thousands of individuals have even made the permanent mark in solidarity with a bee tattoo. The bee has been a motif for Manchester since the Industrial Revolution when the mills and factories were described as hives of activity. The workers were like worker bees maintaining their hive – but now this humble creature which is also endangered, the motif is even more empowering. The people of Manchester were threatened, but will work together to continue the essence of their city – and hive.
The representative of that hive – the queen, the one who has quietly accepted that leadership of standing strong is a young pop princess, an ex-Nickelodeon star loved by her young fans, but up to now, not been widely known by the General UK Public. Ariana is a petite young woman with a huge voice who stands up for what she believes in. She is loved by her fans for empowering them to believe in themselves and to choose love not hate.
Her own post she shared on her social media is the essence of that “Why” that everyone involved has pledged their support for. Music brought everyone together at her concert , and music will enable people to stand strong against the hate of that person who caused tragedy.
The only thing we can do now is choose how we let this affect us and how we live our lives from here on out.
I have been thinking of my fans, and of you all, non stop over the past week. The way you have handled all of this has been more inspiring and made me more proud than you’ll ever now. The compassion, kindness, love, strength and oneness that you’ve shown one another this past week is the exact opposite of the heinous intentions it must take to pull off something as evil as what happened Monday.
YOU are the opposite.
I am sorry for the pain and fear that you must be feeling and for the trauma that you, too, must be experiencing.
We will never be able to understand why events like this take place because it is not in our nature, which is why we shouldn’t recoil.
We will not quit or operate in fear.
We won’t let this divide us.
We won’t let hate win.
The One Love Manchester concert on Sunday is a Live aid of our era – of musicians and music lovers standing strong to show commitment in a belief – music should be our safe space, our place for joy, happiness, making memories and belonging, and this benefit concert will take that back in Manchester.
As Ariana said in her post to her fans: When you look into the audience at my shows, you see a beautiful, diverse, pure, happy crowd. Thousands of people, incredibly different, all there for the same reason, music.
Music is something that everyone on Earth can share.
Music is meant to heal us, to bring us together, to make us happy.
So that is what it will continue to do for us.
4th June 2017 – One Love Manchester