Much has been written about the “riots” and looting which occurred in London at the start of this week. Those of us who live in London either witnessed it at first hand or knew someone who had. The power of social media ensured that images hit our screens thick and fast leaving no hiding places for those who committed the crimes.
Once the dust had settled and the last pieces of glass had been swept away I noticed a phenomenon I last witnessed in NYC in the aftermath of 9/11. Engagement. Strangers speaking to each other. Offering each other seats on the underground. More random smiles. Greater eye contact. By Wednesday and Thursday the streets were happier places to be. It’s as if everyone simultaneously discovers that rather than inhabiting a selfish world of one (usually hard-wired to the audio or visual stimulation of our chosing) we are part of a bigger picture. And we all have a role to play in the community.
And that’s the issue. In a few days time the chances are that we will collectively return to our own world and forget about the community in which we live allowing those who seek to exploit our isolationism.
Maybe this time it will be different.