At 9:00 p.m., London time, as part of her “Dangerous Woman” world tour, singer Ariana Grande began her concert at the 21,000-seat Manchester Arena.
At 10:28 p.m., with the concert complete, a man detonated an explosive device near one of the exits.
Seconds later, fans raced out of the arena, hearing the blast, with most unaware of exactly what had happened.
At least 22 have died, and 59 were injured Monday night. Of the victims named thus far, some are teens. One is only eight.
ISIS was quick to take credit, stating that this iniquitous act was carried out “with Allah’s grace and support.” For the record, I couldn’t disagree more. Lest we digress, however, with the ongoing investigation and the identification of the killer, the incident is believed to be a result of Islamic terrorism.
At this point, it’s challenging to know what to say. With a heavy heart and a sober mind, I find myself mostly pausing at the keyboard, wondering how in the world we make sense of a group that finds it sickeningly valiant to intentionally take the life of an eight year old girl. The reality is that terrorists don’t care about who they kill; they don’t care about other people. The radicals have taken a religious creed and utilized it as a license for murder. Let’s be poignantly clear: they are not motivated by God; they are motivated by evil.
What magnifies the inherent challenge, unfortunately, is that our country currently stinks at talking about things well.
I have no desire to be disrespectful to a single soul. But I do desire to find a way through this, talking honestly, bluntly, and respectfully about terrorism. Consistent with most topics, I’d like to find a way to discuss the truth and the solemn ramifications without any of the “downs” — that is, either (A) watering down the truth — or (B) shoving the truth down the throat of one who approaches the topic from a different angle.
Too many play politics. Too many dismiss a potentially relevant aspect. Too many dismiss who leads and directs the conversation. Again, we have a hard time simply talking about it. It thus doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch to wonder why solution remains distant. If we fumble the mere conversation, we are also likely to forgo any solution.
Perhaps the most poignant response I witnessed this week was from Ariana Grande herself. She made me think. In the immediate hours after the attack, she simply tweeted the following:
from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.”
I thought about her words for a long time… broken.
What does it mean to be “broken”?
With many stated definitions, this one seemed consistent with Grande’s emotion: “made weak or infirm; subdued completely.”
There is an inherent humility in that definition — a recognition of weakness that we need help in this; we need far more than self. We need a grace and truth that is bigger and better and more effective and lasting than any human brilliance or bravado.
It dawned on me, therefore, how beautiful brokenness is… the calling out for help, the submission, the acknowledgement of weakness and transparency of emotion, and the resistance to any choosing of sides or exalting of self.
Maybe then, the way through discussing and eliminating the evil of terrorism is for everyone to humble themselves long enough to pray, recognizing our need for divine help and quit any exaltation of party, policy, or self. Maybe. I’m just thinking out loud.
Primarily, my heart and mind just feel we need to be a little more broken.