I mean, my commute is roughly an hour each way, which is fine. However, last week the main road on which I travel was closed due to a burst water main, meaning it took me nearly four hours to get home. I could live with that – it’s not fun, but hey, sometimes water mains explode – but the complete lack of consideration displayed by other motorists was shocking, with cars pushing into the queue at the last moment and generally bumping an already nightmarish commute down a couple more levels of hell.
Okay, silly example maybe, but it shows what happens when the Power of We gets pushed out in favour of the Power of Me. It turns out that eccentric British radio and TV personality Jimmy Savile was systematically sexually abusing young girls for forty years without being caught; now it turns out that plenty of people knew or suspected it was going on but turned a blind eye. It was pragmatic. It was the culture. Community broke down.
I won’t even start on trolling.
I know this is a negative way of starting a blog that’s intended to celebrate the power and importance of community, but I think it’s important to remember that community, society, the corporate We isn’t just about projects and clubs, it’s about a way of thinking, a way of thinking that means we actually work together instead of ignoring crimes and becoming jerks the minute we sit down behind a steering wheel or a keyboard.
That way of thinking is a powerful thing. My wife and I got married in August, and our wedding is a fantastic example of the Power of We. Friends did our catering, made our cake, took photos and moved chairs and decorated and arranged flowers and… Well, it was a genuine example of a community – no, a few different communities – coming together and making our big day special. I might moan about inconsiderate commuters, but when I do, all I have to do is look at my wedding photos to get a wake-up call: sometimes community works. Heck, most of the time it works, that’s why we have a society, that’s why we have sub-cultures, that’s why, when a bunch of people rioted last year, communities in London had organised clean-up crews by the next morning. They held their brooms in the air and proclaimed that chaos wouldn’t win.
It’s that humanity, those faces, that help me to remember what’s really important. We can look at Jimmy Savile or Rupert Murdoch and see how, over the last year, media, law and politics collapsed and allowed shameful crimes to be committed. But I can look at my friends, I can look at colleagues who were in Yemen and Tunisia when the Arab Spring took hold and see that communities can work together to create something amazing, something good.
It’s easy to be cynical; it’s harder, but more more powerful, to believe that things can be different. Or, as the Smiths once sang, “It’s so easy to laugh, it’s so easy to hate; it takes strength to be gentle and kind”.
And the Power of We shall stand.