Caravans and changing rooms

I’ve been watching the excellent Amazon Original Series, ‘All or Nothing: Manchester City,’ which chronicles the remarkable and record-breaking 2017-2018 season the club enjoyed in the English Premier League. While there’s plenty of action on the pitch, much of the drama happens in the changing room, where Pep Guardiola inspires, cajoles and berates his players, who together form one of the most talented teams to ever play the beautiful game.

I was intrigued by glimpses of the writing above the players’ dressing area, which read, “Some are born here, some drawn here” and something else that wasn’t in the frame. I went online to see what the whole thing says, and this is what I found:

I became curious as to the origins of what I find to be a beautiful sentiment, and discovered that it’s a line from the poem, This is the place, written by Mancunian poet Tony Walsh, also known as ‘Longfella,’ his ode to the city he calls home. He recited it to a crowd of thousands at a vigil following the terrorist bombing of an Ariana Grande concert in 2017, in which 22 people were killed, and scores injured. It’s a powerful performance, worth taking 5 minutes to watch:

While it’s an ode to a particular city, it captures the love of a place that many of us have experienced, while invoking the very best of those who call that place home.

“Some are born here, some drawn here…” People continue to be drawn to the United States, believing that it can offer a better future than the one they face elsewhere. As I write, a caravan of people are walking thousands of miles to seek such a better future among those who already call this country home, some of whom were born here, while many others – myself included – were drawn here. Instead of wondering what those men, women and children who are wearing out their shoes and bodies in order to get here have to contribute to our shared life, some have already decided they have nothing to offer, or that they actually represent a threat to us, so much so that it is necessary to send thousands of troops to the border to ‘greet’ them. There is an undercurrent of fear and hate  in our midst that appears to be getting stronger, or at least, more visible.

It was fear and hate that led that man to strap bombs to himself in order to kill others in Manchester. The temptation is always to respond in kind when we’re afraid, and there will always be those who beat that drum to their own advantage. But as the poet Longfella reminded us – and it’s the poets and comedians who are the prophets in our midst – we are bigger, and better and stronger than that. His last words to the grieving crowds? “Choose love, Manchester.” In the face of those who call for fear and hate, may we, instead, choose love, wherever we are. Some were born here, some drawn here, but we all call it home.

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