Communicating hope and confidence in our time, a difficult task

05 June 2017

22 May, 2017: It is 10:35 PM, local time. The concert of American pop star Ariana Grande at the Manchester City Arena turns into a night of terror when a terrorist attack kills 22 people, many young; in the following days, repeated attacks in Egypt, Afghanistan, and even more recently in London, the number of victims tragically increases.

These events leave us all immersed in a sensation of profound pain and discomfort, the pervading feeling: impotence. We are silent witnesses. Media channels broadcast news of the violence, the many victims, the suffering of the wounded and the pain of relatives and friends: an already written script that is repeated and highlights a modus operandi of the now known terrorists.

Events that leave us feeling discouraged and fatigued, feelings which lead us to perceive reality that is increasingly obscure and blurred, sad, that in most cases does not let us take notice of the collateral effects of terrorist attacks.

But the Manchester massacre may well serve as a tangible example where the pain and shock of the hundreds of people mobilized during the attack became and transformed itself into a chain of solidarity that brought first aid and help to many of the injured. Taxi drivers crossing the affected area assisted with their taxis; off-duty paramedics, on hearing the news, rushed to hospitals to offer help; citizens housed many of the wounded who sought comfort and help in their own homes; in short, the many humanitarian gestures told another story, a story of deep-felt solidarity.

Of course, in our hands, we have the power to cause pain and bring death to the innocent in the name of our ideologies, but we also have the power to help and soothe the suffering of others, to empathize and take on the anguish and pain of those who ask us for help. It is, therefore, encouraging to see how in these moments of despair, human behavior shows its positive, paradoxical reactions.

It is, therefore, important to read the various facets of such events, don't you think?

It is true that in the horror and pain of the victims of terrorism, that night in Manchester can never be canceled, but also true were the countless gestures of solidarity and closeness from the Muslim community in the immediate vicinity.

Alas, little mention is given to the Muslims' opinion of these attacks. In the blog of a Syrian physician, Ali Mesnawi, I find a note: "We live (we Muslims) these tragic news with a double anguish, that is we are witness a cruel and unjustified act of violence, and also we live in the fear that such an act is the act of a Muslim. Because in this case, that individual is automatically seen as a representative of the entire Muslim community wherever he may be, with many believing that this act is met with the consensus and support of the whole community."

Every time such an event shakes the conscience of our society, it lets us see the levels of barbarism and hatred that are present in the world, acts we have difficulty imagining.

Where and when "reality goes beyond fiction", it can be argued that there are no more words or ready-made phrases of consolation, because events exceed words.

But even in the midst of such darkness and perversion, we are also witness to new gestures of life and humanity, beacons of hope, that bring us to see events in their proper perspective, certainly not given by simple human criteria, but by trust in man and in God.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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