Hayley Matthews: Finger of blame must not follow the hand of horror

Mahatma Gandhi's words of peace still resonate. Picture: Getty

Mahatma Gandhi's words of peace still resonate. Picture: Getty

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As a parent, the recent horrific terrorist attack in Manchester has left me with the chill of reality that we live in a very dangerous world now, one very different to the world I knew when I was a wee lass. It’s left me thinking about how I prepare my child for the dangers that we face, and what tools he needs to be a compassionate, caring and strong human being and I believe a lot of it comes down to attitudes.

I did think twice about writing on this subject however, but a comment I read left me wanting to write something to make us all stop, think, and possibly change our thinking.

I vow to do my best to make sure that we give the next generation the tools they need to make the world a better place, and I’m sure you want that too. So, when I read a comment online from a woman saying how she “hates these bloody Muslims”, it put me deep in thought.

We simply can’t pigeonhole the Muslim community as “terrorists” and many do. What made me think about this comment was how we’ve seen many attacks on innocents, by indigenous citizens. We’ve seen Glasgow-born Thomas Hamilton carry out an attack on innocent school children in the Dunblane Massacre, Anders Behring Breivik the Norwegian who committed the 2011 attacks on his fellow citizens, Derrick Bird who went on a shooting spree in Cumbria in 2010. I could go on but I think you get my message. We’re all to blame. All the hate in the world doesn’t come from Muslims, it comes from ignorant attitudes.

When I think of the heartbreak that families are facing in the aftermath of the Manchester attacks, it’s the same heartbreak I feel when I see young children being pulled from bombed busses in Aleppo, when I see adults running wounded from grenades in Iraq, when I see pictures of bombed passenger trains in Madrid. It’s the same heartache and the same despair that I feel.

These terrorists commit evil acts of atrocity but they weren’t born evil. Have you ever met an evil baby? Of course you haven’t! So somewhere along the line something has gone wrong. Some became angry at society, resentful towards the government, disrespectful of their fellow humans and targeted those feelings at the innocent. Surely then, we need to unwind the process and look at where it all went wrong, learning from our mistakes and stop dropping bombs like they are loose change at a wedding poor-oot!

I think the powers that be need to start letting go of their hunger for power. We need to unite and nurture our children, teaching them love, compassion, forgiveness and understanding so that we can shape the world into a much more peaceful place for their children’s children.

The tales of taxi drivers, shop owners, passers-by of all religions beliefs, races and backgrounds, coming together to unite and show compassion to help these poor souls who were running for their lives on Monday, many of them children who had lost their friends, parents and guardians. We need more of that kindness, but from the top.

So I leave you this week with a quote from a man, who I never had the good fortune to meet but was honoured to interview his grandson Arun Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi’s words resonate with me and it’s simple really: “The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.”

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