Humanity: alive and well in the fast lane

James Woudhuysen

Topics Politics

Many people have given up on human solidarity, believing that rampant individualism has triumphed and that selfishness is the order of the day. But at every moment the actual behaviour of human beings gives the lie to this miserabilist myth.

On 12 November, cyclist Claire Pepper, 27, collided with a VW Golf on Commercial Street, Spitalfields, east London. Her helmeted head was trapped underneath the car; her bike was a write-off, and she suffered concussion, as well as a broken collarbone.

She woke up in the Royal London hospital at 2am, and could easily have died. Luckily, 10 motorists, pedestrians and drivers from Cityman, a local taxi firm, piled in to save her life. Ahmed Yusuf, 44, and Shehryar Taj, 20, plus two other drivers, were among those who rolled the Golf over with their bare hands.

The quick-thinking of these selfless passers-by is a heart-warming counter to the pessimistic accounts of dog-eat-dog anti-social behaviour spewed from the Labour Party and its hangers-on. The human spirit – motorists emphatically included – remains intrepid, indomitable, and impervious to differences of race, age or gender. Exemplary though the heavy lifting was, it is completely typical of what human beings do in a dangerous situation – from the wastes of East London to the carnage in the Philippines.

Despite everything, we still care for each other. For all the cynicism that pervades enlightened society, let’s all the same remember this event, among many others, during these dark days.

James Woudhuysen is professor of forecasting and innovation at De Montfort University, Leicester, and editor of Big Potatoes: the London Manifesto for Innovation. Read his blog here.

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Topics Politics