Resilience and the Manchester Bombing by Gerry Myers

The British people have shown great resilience over the last few days in coping with the Manchester bombing. For the most part they have kept true to their values and their way of life. We hear of Mancunians pulling together in the midst of the crisis, offering practical support, food, shelter, care. We read the story of a homeless man overcoming his own difficult circumstances and rushing in to help in the immediate aftermath of the bomb, we read of families offering bed and board to strangers who were searching for missing relatives. And whilst there are those who were quick off the blocks to stoke hate for Muslims and immigrants, the vast majority of people were having none of it. Our TV screens showed soccer fans holding a dignified minute’s silence at a match, and there were vox pop interviews on news programmes where ordinary people spoke out against hate, including hatred of immigrants and Muslims. There was also no shortage of Muslim voices saying “Not in our name” to any of their faith who were thinking of launching any attacks in Britain. It is clear that for some time members of the Islamic community have been co-operating with the police to identify threats to the people of Britain. Those of us who were in London at the height of the troubles will well remember the great Irish demonstration in Hyde Park when many thousands of Irish people said “Not in our name” to our fellow countrymen who wanted to bomb Britain. Back then, as now, the people who make up the great melting pot that is Britain dipped into their resilience and were not cowed by bombers. So what is this thing called resilience? It could be described as communities and individuals successfully adjusting to very difficult circumstances, through psychological, emotional, practical and spiritual means. One of the most important facets of resilience is the capacity for meaning-making. In the midst of the carnage in Manchester this week, and despite a small minority urging hatred, the community remembered what is important to them, they kept to their values and meaning, found solidarity in communal care, rejected hatred and continued to do what they always do. Resilience isn’t just continuing to do what we always do, it is also knowing the meaning, values and philosophy of life that drive us to continue.