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May 24, 2017, 5:26 PM

Forging Connections in the Midst of Mourning

Forging Connections in the Midst of Mourning

A 93-year-old Jewish woman and an imam prayed together at the site of the Manchester Bombing massacre.

Last Monday’s deadly bombing attack in Manchester, England shook the world. With police reporting at least 22 people dead and 59 injured, the incident was the deadliest attack Britain had seen since 2005, and its echoes are still sounding in the global community as fearful people use the tragedy to sow anti-Muslim sentiment. 

However, the URI global community sees tragedies as an opportunity for peace-loving people to come together in their shared humanity. Rather than allowing terror attacks to drive us apart, we forge connections in our grief and support each other through the crisis.

"Voices within me cry out for revenge, for retribution," says the Rev. Victor H. Kazanjian Jr., URI Executive Director. "As a Gandhian and non-violent practitioner, I feel embarrassed by these feelings. But I have come to understand that to be committed to nonviolent, compassionate action, does not mean that one does not feel rage in the face of the murder of innocents, but rather that one chooses not to act on that rage in a way that perpetuates the cycle of violence. Instead, we move through the rage to the place where grief lies. For only by going into the grief can we reconnect with the love that is at the center of our being, the love that restores our humanity and connects us to one another."

URI members continue to look to the peacebuilders for inspiration. At the site of the massacre, a 93-year-old Jewish woman and an imam prayed together, proclaiming, “No matter about the colour or creed or whatever you are, we’re all the same people and we bleed like everybody else.” And throughout Manchester, the Sikh community has mobilized volunteers to provide free transportation and a bit of humanity to a shell-shocked community.

"With mixed emotions from anger to sadness, we gathered for a minute’s silence in honour of the Manchester terror attack victims, and to stand in solidarity with the injured," reports URI Global Council Trustee Chair Kiran Bali MBE JP, who lives in the U.K. "Each day,the name of another victim is released. We continue to grieve for the families, for the whole community."

She continues, "But our community spirit, our resilience and our hope shine through. Faith communities especially have been working together to provide assistance. Four gurdwaras near the Manchester Arena offered shelter and food to anyone in need. Places of worship across the nation are holding prayers for unity. Many people have offered to give blood. All have responded with humanity and compassion to this act of barbarity."

In the wake of tragic events, it’s even more important than ever to come together and help each other. The URI global community, a community made up of people from a tapestry of faith traditions and cultures around the world, extends its prayers to the victims and their families, and stands in solidarity with the brave peacebuilders who look past their fear to offer healing. 

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