29 May Manchester Terror – How Should We Respond?
In light of last week’s horrific attack in Manchester, it’s understandable that many of us are ruminating about how we should respond. When incidents such as this occur, it is completely natural to go to that place in our head – our prefrontal cortex, the logical, problem solving area of the brain that helps us make sense of what happened to seek the answer to why, for if we can understand the why, then maybe, just maybe, we can know how to avoid such terror in the future. It brings me right back to my older daughter’s comment after the terrorist attack in Paris. As I walked into the house she was watching the news of the suicide bombings. She looked up at me and said, “But mom, I go to concerts all the time.”
My response to her then was no different from my response to this most recent event. “I know you’re scared. It scares me too. Unfortunately bad things are going to happen. As much as we would like to understand the why, we may never truly get it; (and frankly I’m not sure I even want to understand) but I believe underlying the why are the unspoken questions – Can this happen to me? Am I safe? Therefore I think we need to focus on what we CAN do with the situation – focus on what is in our control. That means we DON’T stop going to concerts or night clubs, but we DO become more aware of our surroundings and emergency exits; we DO make donations to the families who have lost love ones in this tragic event; we DO treat others with more loving care because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.”
We CAN also ask our children, “What do you need to feel more safe?”
We CAN discuss previous adversities and how they found their way through, pulling from their strengths and demonstrating that they CAN find ways to cope.
I’m not sure my answer helped her feel any better. I’m not even sure anything could. What I am sure of is that the world can feel like a very scary place sometimes, so perhaps one of the best things we CAN do is to hold onto each other!