Perhaps nothing better exemplifies the resolve of the British than the spirit of the Blitz.
With the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II so recently behind us, with the renewed fascination for portrayals of the Dunkirk evacuation and the life of Winston Churchill, we perhaps find ourselves questioning what it was that made the people of this island so resilient, so enduring, and so courageous.
For six long years, a nation little more than one-third the size of Texas was besieged by the Luftwaffe (the German Air Force), London itself suffering relentless and unabated bombing from the air for eight weeks without respite. And yet London prevailed, and Britain—alongside its valiant allies—not only survived the war, but defeated Hitler and his Fascist regime.
That spirit—one of camaraderie, hope, optimism, selflessness, courage and indomitability—has never left this island, and is now perhaps exemplified again by the people of Manchester.
On May 22, 2017, Manchester suffered the consequences of a horrendous terrorist attack. Twenty-two innocent people were killed, countless families were irreparably shattered, and the repercussions sent shock waves through an entire nation and beyond.
And yet—almost inconceivably—a message was carried out from the hearts and minds of those most closely affected. Like tiny roots finding crevices in a stone, that message found purchase and grew sufficiently strong to break that stone. And that message was simply: “We Stand Together.”
The photos of those bearing placards and banners with this message have become iconic representations of all that personifies the very best in human beings. The message was not one of anger or hatred, nor did it call for vengeance or retribution. The message did not exclude or label or categorize or incite prejudice. It simply said “We Stand Together.” It rallied a city, it rallied a nation, and has since impelled a sense of civic dignity and pride that is truly inspirational.
The strength of its people—the simple fact that, despite the circumstances, they did not turn to hate or anger, but to kindness and consideration for others—perhaps tells us all we need to know about the basic nature of Man.
And now, the Warrington-based Foundation for Peace, a charity that works both nationally and internationally for peace and nonviolent conflict resolution, is creating opportunities for individuals, families, community organizations, schools, colleges, faith groups and businesses to take action and engage in projects that will not only strengthen this message, but see it demonstrated in all walks of life.
The aims are simple:
1) Get peace studies onto the curriculum of every school in Greater Manchester
2) Encourage and celebrate acts of kindness, building towards a Special Day of Giving in the spring of 2018
3) Fight hate crimes
With these aims in mind, Manchester has dedicated itself to becoming a model city for tolerance, acceptance, generosity of spirit and a sense of real community and togetherness, irrespective of gender, ethnicity, culture or religious belief.
In May of 2017, Manchester displayed a spirit of community in the face of adversity and immeasurable tragedy. The strength of its people—the simple fact that, despite the circumstances, they did not turn to hate or anger, but to kindness and consideration for others—perhaps tells us all we need to know about the basic nature of Man.
If history has taught us anything, it is that violence never wins.
As Mahatma Gandhi so famously said, “I believe it is impossible to end hatred with hatred.”
If the peoples of Earth are ever to find a true and lasting peace, then surely that must begin with a recognition that we are truly one race—the human race—and that to be at war with one another is to be at war with ourselves.