I like to think I’m quite a positive person, but it only takes turning on the news for five minutes for that positivity to be knocked.
Living in Greater Manchester, and having been to Manchester Arena on numerous occasions, the bombing in 2017 rocked us hard. We knew children who were at that Ariana Grande concert. Thankfully they made it home to their families but there were 22 victims who didn’t.
I have tried to shelter my children from the news as much as possible. Rightly or wrongly I wanted to preserve their innocence.
It became so much harder to keep them from hearing about the Manchester attack. They were talking about it at school, there were stories on our local radio station, in our local papers.
Our youngest is only 2, and thankfully she is completely oblivious to it all. Her little mind is full of unicorns, Peppa pig and dinosaurs and I’m thankful for that.
Our middle child has just turned 6. He wears his heart on his sleeve. If he’s upset he cries. If he’s happy he laughs. He’s easily the most affectionate of my children and will actively seek comfort when he’s upset.
Our eldest is eight and definitely “a thinker”. He takes time to process information and dwells on things. He wants facts and wants to understand things. We have learnt to let him try to figure things out and come to us when he’s ready.
After the Manchester attack he had just one question.
The hardest question to answer. Why?
“Why would anyone want to kill children, Mum?”
“What did those children do wrong? Why do people hurt and kill people?”
How do you answer that?
As a mother I try to teach them kindness, empathy, positivity. The ability to see the good in people.
So how could I explain to him, my sweet, sensitive little soul, that there are some absolute monsters out there?
I sat him down and said no one can really understand why. The people who did these horrendous things believe they had their reasons, but they were wrong. Hurting people is never an answer. Love is the answer. And for every person wanting to hurt, there’s millions more aching to heal. Love always wins.
But I’m at the point where I need to remind myself of my own words. There seems to be hate coming from every angle.
Minorities being attacked. Racism. Discrimination. Lies.
People posting the most appalling things on Twitter, to get a few retweets or to try and a sell a book.
It’s hard to read.
But it isn’t just terrorist attacks that provoke this kind of reaction. Some people seem to use any news story as an excuse to peddle hate.
I have had people call me a moron and an idiot who is damaging my children, all because I defended trans people’s right to have children. I’ve been called uneducated for defending a woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body. These are just the insults that aren’t filled with expletives that I don’t wish to post here.
I have been ridiculed, mocked and insulted when trying to defend minorities.
It stings. But the worse thing is, I’m not even part of any minority, and if I feel so disheartened and overwhelmed by the level of vitriol coming off my screen, how are those who actually are being discriminated against feeling?
I teach my children that if they are good, kind, thoughtful and hardworking, then they can achieve anything in life. Fools, liars and cheats will never prosper.
How I wish that were true.
I know kind, thoughtful and hardworking people struggling to make ends meet. I know people being targeted and discriminated against because of their religion.
Meanwhile a man with undoubtedly questionable morals has the most powerful job in the world.
I don’t understand it. How can I make my children understand it.
These are certainly dark times we’re living in. The fear of turning on the news to see what new horror has developed.
I guess the one thing that we have to focus on is hope. Hope that the right message is heard. Hope that justice is served to those who deserve it, not those who are targeted for having the same religion. Hope that we really are the majority and hate will never win.
So maybe it’s our jobs as parents, caregivers, educators to teach our children to be better. To be more tolerant, to be kinder. To educate them so they will not be so easily led into thinking bigotry and racism is acceptable.
No child is born hating someone due to their race or religion. No child hates someone because they are gay. These are taught behaviours.
I’m hopeful that there are more people that do teach their children to love and accept, than those who promote hate.
In the meantime we must continue to challenge. To defend those who are innocent. To push for equality and fairness.
Maybe only then can we have a better world for our children.