In the wake of the terrorist bombing of a pop concert in Manchester, England, in the wake of every such massacre these days, our minds respond with a series of irreconcilable dualities: We think, this is just the way the world is today, and there is nothing we can do to stop it. But this cannot be allowed to go on, cannot be permitted to happen.
Monday night’s blast was reportedly set off by a 22-year-old British man, Salman Abedi, whose parents came from Libya. The Islamic State claims responsibility for the attack, which killed at least 22 people and wounded 59.
This is part of, or a result of, a well-funded and organized movement, and it has to be dealt with as such. But many religions have their violent fundamentalists, and the overwhelming majority of Muslims lead peaceful lives.
The concert was by Ariana Grande, a favorite of teen and preteen girls. The bomb was detonated just outside the security perimeter of the arena as attendees were beginning to leave.
It can feel as if nowhere is safe anymore, for our children or for ourselves, and we must be very careful to avoid settings where such attacks are possible. But statistically there is little chance of dying in a terrorist attack or an act of random violence, and we need to live our lives freely and as we choose, because if we do not, the terrorists win.
Britain has been under a “severe” terror threat level, the fourth highest of that nation’s five levels, since 2014. On Tuesday, the threat level was raised to “critical,” meaning an attack might be imminent and that security will be even tighter. After the Manchester bombing, law-enforcement leaders from across the New York City area and the nation promised increased vigilance against attacks, particularly at large public gatherings.
Anything we have to do to stop such attacks is worth it, any amount of security is justified at big events and public venues and airports and train stations. But no matter where you put security checkpoints, there will be lines of people just outside of them. It’s hard to stop a determined killer who is willing to die. And subjecting ourselves to endless checks that won’t always prevent violence could be seen as a burden on freedoms and a waste of time and resources.
So, what we are to do? We persist. We balance. We pursue progress. We work to stop those who would kill even as we work to show them that freedom and peace provide a better path. We hope. We try. And we mourn.— The editorial board