The deadly Oct. 31 terrorist attack in New York City's Lower Manhattan was horrifying for numerous obvious reasons, but it also re-established a sobering truth about everyday life in America. In particular, one woman's tweet about texting her friends following the NYC attack to make sure they're safe encapsulated the constantly looming possibility of violence.
"Remember when you didn't have to text friends in a city every week to check they were safe?" one Twitter user named Anna posted. Unfortunately, her grim observation doesn't apply solely to Tuesday's attack that resulted in the death of eight people.
Just earlier in October, a man opened fire on almost 22,000 concert-goers in Las Vegas. Authorities reported the gunman killed 58 people while injuring almost 500. And in August, a Neo-Nazi rally carried out in Charlottesville, Virginia, claimed the life of one anti-racist counter-protester and injured several others when a white supremacist reportedly drove his car into a group of activists. A couple of months before that, a terrorist attack killed 22 people and injured over a 100 in Manchester, England, at an Ariana Grande concert in June.
The list seems unending. It's as if Facebook is constantly turning on its "Safety Check" feature so that people in the affected areas can, once again, let loved ones know they're alright.
Still, the human spirit is an incredible thing. In spite of the seemingly constant violence that surrounds us, incidents like those in Manchester, Charlottesville, Las Vegas, and, most recently, Manhattan, seemed to have utterly failed at putting a dent in the morale of people. Right after each incident, people took to social media and expressed their empathy and unity with those who had been hurt.
Hashtag campaigns may seem just that — hashtags — but they show how people have turned to the internet to express their love and generosity toward others. In Tuesday's incident, a new hashtag called "NYCStrong" emerged with locals in the Big Apple sharing their warm words and quintessential New-York-style resilience in the face of terror. These posts stand up to terrorism and prove it will never win.
And such a mass refusal to bow before terror is why New York remains an unforgettable city. Tuesday's horror notwithstanding, the city's spirit seems to be uninjured. During a press briefing with the media, Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo said, "We go forward together and we go forward stronger than ever. We're not going to let them win, and if we change our lives, we contort ourselves to them, then they win and we lose."
If you don't believe the governor's statement, simply look for "Halloween" and "NYC" in Twitter's search bar. The smiling faces of thousands of New Yorkers parading in the streets in a dizzying variety of ghouls, goblins, princesses, inside-jokes, obscure film references, cartoon characters, pop culture figures, movie-based protagonists and antagonists, and more will tell you that New York City is not one to give up.
Still, the city's resilience can't erase the fact that mass violence is always a threat — and people are sick and tired of it. But how countries decide to confront that threat and mitigate it has produced more division than it has unity. Trump, for example, sparked controversy when he tweeted, "I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!" The problem is, that type of rhetoric goes against the concepts of unity and understanding. It needlessly breeds anti-immigrant sentiment. And the world does not need more of that. In an environment where we have to consistently check-in on each other's safety, solidarity is our best weapon.