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Manchester showed the best of humanity

24 May 2017 - 12:42 by claire.tomkinson

On Sunday night I was lucky enough to be at Manchester Arena on a birthday night out with my brother listening to Professor Brian Cox and Robin Ince. I learnt a lot that evening, but what really resonated with me was Brian’s insights into what people say about planet Earth when they return from space. To be so far away and look at Earth as such a tiny dot, we suddenly realise how tiny, vulnerable and insignificant we really are. To see everything that we have ever known as a dot makes the fact that people wouldn’t get along with each other, and that there are such big divisions within our communities completely incomprehensible.

To me, what I heard was as much about humanity as it was about physics.

As I left the Arena, walked through the main foyer and down towards Victoria train station (a trip that myself and many Mancunians have taken so many times before), I tweeted my reactions to the evening. Mike Wild, Macc Chief Executive, immediately shared some thoughts about Carl Sagan’s work around the Cosmos and how basically as human beings, we all come from “star stuff”. I left the Arena thinking about that beautifully simple message. Before we even start to think about race, religion, country of origin or continents, at the very basic level every single one of us comes from “star stuff”.

I left the Arena on Sunday night filled with positive thoughts about humanity but exactly 24 hours later, children, young people and families followed my exact footsteps and faced the absolute worse that humanity had to offer. I find that particularly unbearable, but as I woke to the news on Tuesday morning, tried to process it and think what I would say to my children, I was reminded that the one act of inhumanity mobilised thousands and thousands of acts of the absolute best of what Manchester has to offer. From hotels opening their doors and providing rooms for the night, restaurants providing safe spaces and cups of tea, taxi drivers getting people home, endless deliveries of food and people on the streets helping the injured. I told my kids that something bad had happened, that people had died and it was unbelievably sad, but that we should still be proud of our city and the wonderful and diverse people that live here. That people are kind and that people helped. We’ve already shared our official response on behalf of Macc, but what really sticks out for me is the need to be “defiantly kind” and the thought that I will again in future take that trip out of the Arena with the firm belief that people are made of “star stuff”.

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