I wrote this post four years ago. On the weekend of The Great Get Together to mark the anniversary of Jo Cox’s death and all she believed in, I wanted to share it again. This post reminded me that we are continually facing struggles but that we always carry on, as a collective. As communities. We cannot always stop things happening like Jo Cox’s murder, Manchester, London and Grenfell Tower. And it will never become less shocking or heartbreaking. But what we ALWAYS see in the aftermath of these terrible events is people coming together. Showing kindness, love and a sense of community over everything else, even if they live hundreds of miles away. I am more grateful than ever for the communities I am fortunate to inhabit. They are my lifeline. Community is everything. It’s you. It’s me. It’s no person alone. And we must always strive to serve it and protect it. Much love to all of you and in memory of Jo. A truly inspirational woman who has left a legacy for us all to follow.
It was whilst watching Home and Away, that I was struck by the importance of community.
I have dreadful taste in TV I know. What can I say, the beach lures me.
Anyway, it was Gina’s funeral. If I’ve lost you already, don’t worry, it’s actually irrelevant whose funeral it was. It’s the people who were there that were important. You see, each and every one was a local person whose relationship to Gina started out as nothing more than geography. They lived in The Bay together and they became neighbours, customers, friends, pupils and colleagues. And because of this shared community, there was a tangible solidarity amongst the mourners. It was moving. Seriously. Just ask Daddy Pig about the power of a Home and Away funeral. He still says he had something in his eye when Flynn died.
I’m slightly embarrassed to say it took Home and Away to prompt me to think about community when there are two far more important examples this week. Two real examples. First, the Oklahoma tornado. Yesterday, the terror attack in Woolwich, just two miles from our house and the town where Beaver and Godivy were born.
We all feel the pain and devastation of events like this. The injustice. It bears no resemblance to that of the families and friends who have lost someone. But we feel something, just the same. And if it’s our own community that has been struck, we feel it a little bit more.
Last night, as the helicopters whirred in the sky above and the A2 was noisier than usual with the wail of sirens, I was reminded of the London Riots in 2011. The many communities that were attacked and the vulnerability felt by typically resilient Londoners. For a while, we were paralysed by fear but gradually we fought back in our communities and in turn it made each one stronger.
So often, it takes a tragedy to remind us how important our community is to us. How fragile it can be. But it also reminds us, so vitally, to come together. To support one another. That we are ALWAYS better together. It reminds us of our instinctive need ‘to belong’ and be a part of something bigger than us.
Communities need one vital thing in order to thrive. They need US. Whether it’s school, church, a sports club, online or very simply the pavement we share, each one needs its people. Each one needs YOU.
Because each and every one of us, as unique individuals, have a very special and irreplaceable role to play.