Last Saturday 200 Twin Cities Arsenal supporters and I gathered at The Local Irish Pub in downtown Minneapolis to watch the FA Cup final. Before kickoff there was a moment of silence held for the victims of the Manchester bombing. The moment of silence was impeccably observed at the ground … and at the the Pub. You could hear a pin drop in the bar, servers and bartenders stopped what they were doing, and we all just bowed our heads and paid our silent respects to the people who lost their lives for nothing more than attending a pop concert. It was awe-inspiring.
Minneapolis based Arsenal supporters are motley crew, emblematic of the Great American Melting Pot. We are Democrats and Republicans and Libertarians and Who Gives a Shits. We are black, white, Christian, Muslim, Atheist, gay and straight and in between. We are from Zimbabwe and Duluth and Cyprus and Ohio. We are doctors and truck drivers and barbers and shoe salesmen. But despite these differences–differences that in the world outside football might be a bridge too far–we all stood, we were all silent, we were all respectful. And I think that moment of silence at the Pub, that spirit of comradery, that belief that we are all one, that we are all in this together, that we are all human … that is how we will defeat our enemies. I am going to hold that moment of silence in my heart for the rest of my life, and I think others that were there will as well.
I love London. It is my favorite city in the world. I have walked those streets, crossed those bridges. And so this attack and the one in March have a personal affect on me. But I know, and we all know, that London will be fine. It’s the capital of the western world, it’s big and diverse and rich and beautiful, and so it has always been under attack by the evil in this world, and it will always be under attack. But whether it’s Nazis or ISIS or some future enemy we have yet to imagine, London will be fine.
And this is where it would be okay to point out my hypocrisy. There have been terrorist attacks all over the world that have claimed more lives than yesterday’s. In May alone there were 147 terrorist incidents. 15 of these took place in Afghanistan–a cricket loving country if there ever was one–and one of those killed more than 100 people and injured close to 500. That attack was just on May 31. Five days ago. And yet it was ignored by the west (for the most part) and ignored on this blog. London will be okay, but I don’t know if we can say the same thing for Kabul. And it’s not just Afghanistan, there were three terrorist incidents in India stemming from the Kashmir conflict that claimed the lives of 10 people. And there was the bombing in Mastung, Pakistan that took the lives of nearly 30 people. Plus attacks in Gwadar and Quetta and Kohat.
I have no answer to the charge of hypocrisy. I am guilty, no doubt. My only defense is that I see London as a spiritual home, and I promise to do better, to see the world as a global citizen, and not just a citizen of the west. This is something that cricket has helped me to do, but I still have a long way to go. We all need to do more than pray for peace, we need to be that peace every single day of the year.
And speaking of cricket, while it seems to trite to talk about a silly bat and ball sport after what happened last night, the games must go on, and in those games, maybe we can find the spirit of togetherness I found in the pub that Saturday morning. Furthermore, to see enemies India and Pakistan playing a peaceful game of cricket should give us all hope for the future, despite what happened in the Kashmir region last month (see above).
India for their part dismantled Pakistan in damp Birmingham in a rain shortened match, winning by an impressive 124 runs. And with today’s match we have now seen all eight teams play, and the cream is definitely rising to the crop: South Africa and India look the most impressive, with New Zealand nipping at their heels. Tomorrow Australia play Bangladesh in London and despite obvious security concerns, the game will be played as scheduled.
Until tomorrow then.
Stay safe, everyone.