Day 290: Manchester

I’m tired of reading headlines like this, perhaps moreso than I’ve ever been before.

What happened last night in Manchester wasn’t the first terrorist attack to happen in my lifetime. I know it also wasn’t the last terrorist attack to happen in my lifetime. I’ve never really been a fan of Ms. Grande’s music (although I do have one of her songs on my iPod), and I have no connection to Manchester. For some reason, though, this particular attack is affecting me more than many of the others that have happened in my lifetime, and I don’t know why.

Maybe it’s because I’ve spent my entire adult life working with teenagers and so many of the victims were teenagers – and even children. Or maybe it’s because the victims were part of an audience that, only minutes earlier, had been united by their shared loved of the performance, and whatever else might have separated or divided them was forgotten as they shared that time together.

As an artist and an educator who teaches literature and performance, my heart goes out not only to the victims and their families but also to Ms. Grande, who, despite being physically unharmed, likely will forever associate her performance and her art with what happened at her concert last night.

That’s one of the things I love most about performance: its ability to bring people together in a collective experience – something that seems to become rarer and rarer with each passing year, as individual technology – laptops and tablets and smartphones and headphones – becomes more and more prevalent.

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As frustrated – and saddened – and angry – as I am about what happened last night, I have to remind myself that the actions of a terrorist weren’t the only things that happened.

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Last night, people came together.

Last night, as they celebrated, people came together, united by the power of music and performance.

Last night, as they mourned, people came together, united by the power of compassion and love.

Last night, as they opened their hearts and their homes, people came together, united by the power of strength and solidarity, of trust and love.

Last night, the people of Manchester came together – and, together, became an example to us all.

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