The Blitz Effect

As we know London and other cities in the UK have recently experienced a series of looting and riots which shocked a nation and gave the politicians the chance to proclaim a range of panaceas and measures which drifted quietly over the heads of a general public not entirely engaged with their antics and posturing.

Something else happened which I found rather more remarkable. Out of streets and houses which seldom attract the attentions of the newsroom people emerged in significant numbers armed with brooms, tools and cleaning materials and set about clearing up the mess made by their  recent unwelcome visitors. This event was largely unsung, although it did make a brief entry in the news.

These are the people who have passed each other in the street saying nothing or as little as they can: protecting their life from the burden of living in an overcrowded metropolis.:now moved by a common impulse to lend a hand. In bland suburbs not noted for the exceptional something remarkable occurred. People who never spoke or exchanged glances with each other  found common purpose. Conversations started out of nothing and in the swell of  goodwill people who had lived near each other for twenty years  started talking and sharing opinions on everything from the riots to the price of jam. Through the unrest and the disaster  people found each other.

This new community was not worth the destruction which preceded it but it was remarkable in its own way. It showed behind the quiet shyness and minimal connection normally displayed people are waiting for a moment to express  warmth and personality.

There will be no hall of fame. Their pictures will not be displayed in newspapers or on some police website but they have shown an aspect of humanity which is both warming and inspiring. The ability to reach out without self-interest and help a neighbour, even if that neighbour’s name is unknown. The riots appalled me and left me shaking my head, but these people  inspired me and left me wondering at the enormous pool of generosity which  lies untapped beneath our consciousness, waiting for a moment to make itself known,

Often men or women who have been in extraordinary circumstances such as war or a natural disaster meet sometime after the event. It is not the event which draws them  back together:  it is the sense of community to which it gave birth . It is a sadness of life that the best of a man often goes unsung . In events larger than ourselves we can lose the need for personal advantage and  greet each other without artifice or guile.  All we need to know about each other is shown by our response to the event. To move beyond the straight-jacket of public-manners and convention and greet each other in the spirit of empathy and goodwill.  The best things in life are simple. Apart from anything else, it is common shyness which makes them complicated.

About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in community, Environment, Life, Relationships, riots and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to The Blitz Effect

  1. scrambled7 says:

    This is such a beautiful post.
    I’m in love with your writing!


  2. The answer, as you so elegantly say, is pretty simple, but getting complicated humans to acknowledge their common human plight and be kind to one another seems so difficult. That’s what I love about studying society and people–we are a paradox. There is never a paucity of material about which to ponder and write.

    Keep pondering and writing. Your blog is inspirational!


  3. Barbara says:

    This post kind of brings it full circle to your first on the riots. You wrote about the community you grew up in and how that was lost.

    As I like to say… sometimes God needs a 2×4!

    Beautifully written Peter.


  4. nelle says:

    Yes, in a spirit of empathy and goodwill… well said!
    Watching the news from afar, what felt worrisome was a continual reference to punishment. I get that many joined in for the reckless abandon of irresponsible conduct, but there is a kernel in the mayhem, that of people with legitimate distress and issues in need of addressing.

    Your post touches that vicariously, people tidying up in the wake. That is their power to make change. Their leaders need to do more to tidy things than push a broom of law based retribution, they need to go to the root cause, hear the issues, and square them away. If they do not, then your leaders fail those who must clean up after the messes spawned from societal dysfunction.

    America has an accounting lurking. If only we all would learn the lessons of community.


  5. Miss Emm says:

    Well said.

    I guess to answer your question and thought….we, humans, are interesting characters. During the time of crises the unlikely sort come together. And when things are back to normal we return to being stranger. Perhaps its self preservation, act of selfishness. Or maybe it’s the possibility that our time is limited and we have things to do, places to be and we don’t have enough time to converse with every individual. I don’t know.


  6. Caroline says:

    Thank you for putting so eloquently exactly what I’ve been thinking over this last week. To see communities pulling together has been inspiring and lifted my heart and my spirits. I found myself saying “At last”. I just hope and pray that having found a purpose they find they can stick together. This is so much more powerful than anything the politicians can offer.


  7. Judith says:

    I was born during the Second World War and lived in London. My late mother often told us about the camaraderie and the sharing among neighbours and friends. Our apartment, being on the ground floor, was open to anybody who wanted to move from a higher apartment into ours for the night. Generosity in its purest form. Later she didn’t have this rapport with her neighbours living for 50 years next to a woman whom she always addressed as Mrs. .
    It’s sad to think that a disaster is needed to bring out this sharing and caring in people.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.


  8. Shonnie says:

    Loved that Ducky. Thanks for sharing a part of the story that is beautiful


  9. It is about picking up the pieces of the community and finding the power to move forward from selfish acts of violence. Sometimes it is a plight or a disaster which helps to bring a community together. Thank you for another great post.


  10. Very well put. Good for you for celebrating something positive that came from the mess. You post makes me wonder if we live in an age where we simply can’t trust and if common adversity will be the thing to bring us together again. As Miss Emm said, will it last?


  11. Big Al says:

    Another Phoenix rises from the ashes.Excellent observations.


  12. eof737 says:

    What a beautiful and generous post Chris… and you raise a point that needs addressing: Why the media chooses to ignore such positive, hopeful stories for the usual garbage. It begs to be addressed because until we seek the good in all people and give attention to those who make a difference, rather than depots and rabble rousers, we will continue to feed the hate. TY for shining a positive light in a sad situation. 🙂


  13. eof737 says:

    Oops! Sorry you are Peter… not Chris. 😆
    Ugh! I meant despots and rabble rousers… those pneumonia meds are overacting. 😆


  14. You have so much inspiration hidden in your archives. I love reading back through them. : ) You are a “Noteworthy Archive Award Winner”. You have some treasures hidden in your archives and this award will let others know that it is well worth their time to take a walk through your archives. Here is the information about this award and where you can get your badge to show others you have great archives worth reading.
    Congrats and enjoy!
    Just Ramblin’


    • This is really very kind of you. Sadly I do not know how to input links or copy and paste awards etc, but the thought is very generous and is appreciated. It has inspired me to write the next post on my Blog.


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