We watch as it happens now. This time – this week – in Manchester.
And we watch and we listen until we can no longer watch and listen.
Every detail, every tear, the panic, the screaming, the running, the waiting, the names, the responses.
News is every second of every day. Every phone is a camera.
No longer do we have to wait for tomorrow’s newspaper.
Twenty-four-hour news and social media have changed everything.
And, in the horror of what has happened, somehow the people of Manchester have managed to hold themselves together.
The Mayor Andy Burnham finding the right words and the right tone.
The barman outside the blood donor centre, who spoke of doing whatever we can to support one another – to look after each other.
And we watch a community doing just that.
That poem – This Is The Place – that we listened to; delivered with so much method and meaning.
In the brokenness, people pulling together, finding words – finding something.
Political responses. Policing and intelligence responses. The assessment of the threat. Moving it from severe to critical. Arrest operations. Soldiers on the streets. All of this, another part of what is happening.
Professor Richard English, author of Terrorism: How To Respond, speaking of the need for those responses to be proportionate. Understanding the horror and the hurt of what has happened. Understanding also the need for careful, measured steps.
The BBC correspondent Alan Little reading the names of the dead, but doing much more than that; finding the words that will help remember them as children, parents, young people doing the ordinary things of life, and those lives taken in the place of this latest bomb.
And, here at home, other bombs are recalled, other hurts remembered, wounds are reopened and there are angry conversations about condemnation.
Those arguments often fall into the pit of whataboutery.
This happened and that happened.
But why did it happen? Causation is the unexplored past.
How do we ensure it doesn’t happen again? How do we learn from all of this?
I’ll leave you with these words, typed and given to me by the late Dr Jack Weir a former Presbyterian Moderator. It was 1992 and a point in the conflict here when the number of dead had reached 3000.
This note is 25 years old and, within it, there is much thinking and learning and there is a challenge delivered in just four words – We are all involved.
Only way forward is to hit back.
1. Don’t help the alleged refugees at sea.
2. Drop a no warning bomb on a known terrorist hotspot and don’t claim it.
3. Kick them out.