Friday 26 May 2017

Living Well Is The Best Revenge

This week, 22 people were killed and 116 injured by a terrorist bombing in Manchester.

The targets of this attack were concert-goers, most of them young women and girls. They were harming no one. They wanted a night out to celebrate their love of music, and watch one of their favourite performers. A young man wanted so badly to kill them that he was willing to sacrifice his own life to do it.

In response to such hatred, we have to go on living. That means not merely surviving, but living in accordance with our greatest joys and highest values.

It means we must remember the values of compassion, tolerance and the rule of law. They have enabled us to build a free and prosperous society, imperfect though it may be.

It means we must cherish life, happiness and hope for the future. The bombing was an act of vicious hatred, but also one of profound and utter hopelessness. The bomber saw no hope for his personal future; he felt the best thing he could do with his life was end it, along with many others.

We will not live like this. We will not live in the fearful, joyless, stunted condition that the likes of ISIS wish upon us, and practice for themselves in the territories they rule.

Today I am going to the Cambridge Beer Festival. I am going to share in the simple enjoyment of good drink, good food, and good company on what promises to be a warm sunny day.

Needless to say, ISIS would not approve. There will be beer and pork pies involved; but that's not what really matters here. If you don't drink alcohol, or eat particular animal products, fine. It's the enjoyment that will really get to them.

Do what makes yourself and others happy. Share a meal with a friend, call a relative on the phone, be kind to a stranger. Paint a picture, write a story, plant a garden.

In the end, this is what we have. We are motes of life on the surface of a ball of rock hurtling through an incomprehensibly vast universe. Each one of us is a spark of awareness in the dark ocean of eternity, infinitesimally tiny and magnificently important.

Knowing this, hatred and fear are hollow things, which we will not allow to overcome us.

Scene from the 2010 Cambridge Beer Festival.
Image source: Shaggy359, Wikimedia Commons

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