On the evening after the harrowing events at the Manchester Arena, the world stood in solidarity against the evil that can only try to destroy such strong communities.
On Tuesday evening, Liverpool joined Manchester in holding a vigil to pay respect to the victims of the attack that had struck less than 24 hours before. A congregation of people from all backgrounds, of all races, ages and genders gathered together; a show of true grit and defiance that this attack on humanity can only dream of destroying.
Looking at the crowd of people standing side by side, the circle that formed can only be described as a metaphorical circle of eternal hope and love; a never-ending offering of support for a community severely shaken by a single act of violence. A man’s voice echoed through the megaphone, and his words were as honest as the messages of love and condolence decorating Williamson Square: “Holding hands down the M62… you’ll never walk alone!” These words mean a great deal; a longstanding rivalry between two of the greatest northern cities was forgotten, disregarded, replaced, in favour of strong comradery and a reassurance that regardless of any act of hate, we, as a community, will succeed in the face of adversity.
The mayor of Liverpool and several local MPs attended the event, showcasing their support and putting aside political differences. The words of those attendees expressing personal support rang through the gathering – there was cheering and whooping – people were shouting “we will not be beaten by it!” – and I can assure you, with the genuine emotion that filled the normally-bustling Williamson Square, never have truer words been said.
As a minute of silence took place, the muffled cries sent shivers down the spine; the heat of the evening sun suddenly became unnoticeable. Parents clutched so tightly onto the hands of their small children – mothers tightened their grips on prams. Couples cradled each other, as the tears rolled from the eyes of young girls, teenage friends and old men alike. No prejudice: the same pain was experienced by all.
“Decorating the ground with pictures that fly through their young minds, the youngest among the crowd only reinforced the hope that this community, this nation, this world must hold onto: the future generation has not yet been broken by hatred and fear, they still have their sincerity and their bravery.”
The colour that now adorns Williamson Square is very much a literal representation of the diversity and the undeniable community spirit that flows through the veins of the people of Liverpool. Taking the chalk offered, nobody hesitated to leave a message of hope, love and support for victims and their families. Decorating the ground with pictures that fly through their young minds, the youngest among the crowd only reinforced the hope that this community, this nation, this world must hold onto: the future generation has not yet been broken by hatred and fear, they still have their sincerity and their bravery. It is these moments that often remain in the minds.
Young children haven’t yet formed a total understanding of the catastrophic impact that these events have on lives only a few miles away, but their innocence and honesty shines through. One young boy of no older than ten spoke into the megaphone with confidence and honesty that could simultaneously break and mend a heart. His words will forever stay in the minds of the people who attended that vigil, and it is only right that the rest of the population get to hear them too: “Ask yourself: what would this world be like with peace? Peace. We need peace.”
As the world continues to mourn for the lives lost in this attack, it is useful to think also of the families who suffer such awful losses on a daily basis, at the hands of cruelty, extremism and hate. In a time of confusion, desperation and sorrow, know that only with love, understanding, support and strength can evil be combatted. So forget the rivalries, forget the arguments and differences, and realise that spreading positive messages has a far greater impact than sinking to blame and defiance. As one man said: “for every horrible person, there are 100 people who aren’t dicks.” Blunt? Yes. True? Absolutely! Manchester: you’ll never walk alone.