Janice Turner, #Grenfell Tower, civil society

The bags of shoes, toys, T-shirts, underwear, cans and sweets spill out on to west London pavements. The community centres around Grenfell Tower are rammed with willing helpers. So many, in fact, that folk are turned away. A superabundance of compassion, a surfeit of love. People – never let us forget – are good.

Our triptych of summer tragedies is notable both for visceral horror and open hearts. Manchester taxi drivers ferrying lost girls free. Borough Market waiters sheltering the terrified, an old man offering a plate of wonky, homemade sandwiches to tired police. So eagerly given is this kindness, it seems people are sprung and ready, just waiting for some outlet, an event that calls upon them to connect…

That social media parades the ugliest side of humanity is much discussed. Yet often, as in the Grenfell tragedy, it brings out the very best. In 2000, Robert Putnam wrote Bowling Alone about the declare in “social capital”, the web of connections between people in workplace clubs and friendship groups. But since then a new civic society has been created online. And its values of empathy, solidarity and social responsibility are …  filtering into real life. (Janice Turner, The Times, 17 June 2017)

Published by

Paul Hodson

Head of Unit "EnergyEfficiency" at European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy

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