opinion

'Days on, this is what we're all struggling to say about Manchester.'

It was around 8:30am Tuesday morning, Australian time, when the news managed to find us.

A homemade nail bomb had exploded in the foyer of Manchester Arena in Northern England as young people, mostly girls, exited an Ariana Grande concert.

The explosion could be felt by nearby residents who felt the walls and floors of their apartments shake.

Commuters at neighbouring Victoria station were suddenly blown off their feet, as they saw a flash of fire surge into the air.

Inside the arena, a nightmarish scene had unfolded – a vision entirely outside the parameters of imagination.

There were ear-piercing screams and cries, an inexplicable mix of pain and fear. The smell of explosives overwhelmed the air. Metal nuts and bolts fell to the floor, many embedded in defenceless bodies. Parents waiting outside the foyer for their teens who had only messaged them moments ago, discovered in only a millisecond, that their greatest fears had been realised.

It was 10:30pm Manchester time, and there had been 21,000 people inside the arena that night.

Five days on, we have learned that 22 lost their lives – ranging in age from just eight years old, to 51.

They included mums who were waiting to pick up their excited daughters, a teen couple who wanted “to be together forever”, and a 14-year-old girl, whose mother and grandmother were among those critically injured.

manchester victims
Three of the 22 people killed in the Manchester attacks. (Images via Facebook.)
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We have watched as the story of the Manchester attack, now claimed by IS, has been cut one hundred different ways.

In the UK, The Daily Telegraph ran with the headline "Corbyn: UK wars to blame for terror." In Australia, Quadrant's Roger Franklin posed that the Manchester bomb should've been exploded on the ABC's Q&A instead.

Katie Hopkins wrote for The Daily Mail that this is representative of a "sickness in our society," and James Harkin penned the headline, "How Ariana Grande and her revealing stage outfits are a symbol of everything Islamists hate."

The angles are endless.

Ought we blame religion? Or Ariana Grande's mini-skirt? Ought we change our behaviour? Or does that mean they've won? Ought we fight back? Or is this a time to call for peace? Ought we hide? Or do we publicly gather in an act of defiant solidarity?

Image via Getty.
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But each columnist, each public intellectual, each civilian at the pub with their friends, and each parent speaking with their child, has found themselves ultimately asking the same question:

How do we draw meaning from this?

If we find fault, perhaps it will make sense. If we stare close enough at the perpetrator, maybe his motives will become clear. If we can just find a pattern, an impetus, a single source for this level of suffering - maybe it will help us heal. Maybe it will help us feel safe.

What we are struggling to say, now five days on, is that this does not make sense.

There is no meaning to be made.

No amount of answers will alleviate the unparalleled pain of the families of those critically injured and brutally murdered.

The closer we look, the more perplexing it becomes.

It is senseless. It is the ultimate injustice. It has happened before and it will likely happen again.

This is partly why Mamamia has chosen not to name the suicide bomber, or report on his motivation. The answers do not lie with him.

What he did was a display of cruelty and inhumanity I hope we can never, ever understand.

The world is captured by this story, as they should be.

The dreams and imaginations of the 22 individuals taken far too soon are worth honouring.

Just as 70 people, mostly children, died in Syria last month, and four lost their lives in the Westminster terror attack the month before, there simply is no logic. Just despair.

And we will never known why. Because behind an act like this, is utter madness.

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