The frightened and panicked screams tear through the heart.
Children, teens and parents enjoying a carefree night of music at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, came face to face with the most despicable action possible — sickening and indiscriminate terrorism.
As the concert was ending, it is suspected a suicide bomber caused an explosion at one of the exits of the 21,000-seat arena. Twenty-two people were killed — some of them just children — and dozens were injured, many of them seriously.
By the morning after, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
How do you make sense of something so senseless?
How can a group claim to be acting in the name of religious ideology while violating a fundamental moral imperative against killing, especially targeting innocent people?
You don’t. You cannot.
Terrorism itself is a psychological battle. Since 2013, ISIS had been behind more than 70 terroristic acts in 20 countries that have left 3,958 dead and more than 15,000 injured. Few of those have been about capturing cities or achieving a goal with surgical precision. They are largely about sending waves of shock through as many people as possible. The word “terrorism” itself is derived from the Latin “terreo,” which means “I frighten.”
That fear is stoked by a number of factors, most notably the seeming inability to keep it from happening but also its random and illogical methods.
“The point of terrorism is to cause terror, sometimes to further a political goal and sometimes out of sheer hatred. The people terrorists kill are not the targets; they are collateral damage. And blowing up planes, trains, markets or buses is not the goal; those are just tactics. The real targets of terrorism are the rest of us: the billions of us who are not killed but are terrorized because of the killing. The real point of terrorism is not the act itself, but our reaction to the act,” security expert Bruce Schneier says in his article “What the Terrorists Want.”
That does not make the seemingly endless acts any less palatable; quite the contrary. Our collective heart is breaking for those touched by the Manchester bombing. In those scared and hurting faces captured and shared through the news and social media, we are reminded how easily our own sanctity can be stolen at the whim of a madman or a group that follows only the rules it makes.
We worry about our own families, what the future could bring, and how to guard against an enemy that is rooted in the fluidity of extremism.
Although separated by thousands of miles, it could just as easily be here. That’s why, more than ever, we must stand united and fortify the resolve to protect humanity from the senseless and cowardly acts of those who want to inflict harm from within.