In London people don’t so much walk as they do rush.
Regardless of whether you’re a highflying businessman, without a home, or one of this generation’s top minds, you’re all savages when it comes to getting where you’re going.
It’s a bit frightening to think about the selfishness people display when they are rushing about, particularly when you consider how much power that individual may possess over the welfare of others. I hope they don’t push people out of the way and step on the back of their heels when they’re in the boardroom or lecture theatre, that’s for sure.
What’s worse is the way you become normalised we are to this as Londoners. We may not like it, but we accept it and soon enough we imitate it. London’s pace and pushiness seeps into one’s psyche seemingly overnight; perhaps it is inhaled along with the fumes of vehicles and clouds of smoke.
But why are we in such a rush? Why are we so inconsiderate of other’s journeys? We care so desperately about our own agenda that we single-mindedly plough on through living breathing human beings, without thinking twice about where they might be going, or how they be feeling that day, or what might be happening in their personal lives.
My pastor said in his preach this Sunday “you are least likely to see need when you are in a rush”, and how true this is. When you are rushing, you are consumed with yourself, with your present ‘need’ of getting wherever. If you slow your pace a fraction, you will be amazed at how much more there is to take in than the slow man in front of you with a suitcase that you’re eager to overtake.
There are far greater needs in this city than speed.
The step counter
The advance of modern technology has made it possible to collect data on pretty much anything, including the amount of steps one takes in a day.
10,000 steps daily is given as the marker of an ‘active’ lifestyle, causing many people to take it upon themselves to try desperately hard to reach this target. They feel some sense of achievement, I believe, when they accomplish this number, as if it adds to their sense of worth. Perhaps it is consoling for them, making them feel that- at least today- they were a better person because they succeeded in fulfilling someone else’s definition of ‘active’.
We’re so busy counting our steps, have we bothered to stop and consider if our steps count? How are you spending your daily steps? With each step, what is achieved?
Are you walking around the office to get your extra steps, or to encourage that colleague you know is struggling?
Are you pacing through life hitting business targets, taking Instagram worthy pictures, and looking good? Or are you taking time to appreciate those around you, to look out for those who might need you?
What’s more valuable to you, do you think: completing 15000 steps in a day that you went to work, did your work, came home, went for a run, and interacted with no one on level deeper than ‘yeah good thanks, how was your weekend?’ or only completing 1500 steps in a day spent with someone you know is lonely?
The density of the population in London means that pavements are often crowded, meaning as an observer you are never sure who is walking with whom, and who is walking alone. I have seen beauty and sorrow in this.
A man and woman may be walking along the same piece of pavement in the same direction; the man pulls a suitcase. At a first glance, one could judge that perhaps he has picked her up from the station, or he is visiting, or he is leaving. Then, one of their paces changes, and before you know it the man is yards in front of the lady you presumed to be connected to him.
This is beautiful because it reminds me of how we are united in our humanity; the fact that I could assume that two people had a relationship is a reminder to me that we all have the capability of forming relationships. Every person you walk past has a life of their own, in which there is a personal storyline of friendships, hobbies, jobs, and passions.
But it is saddening because so many people are isolated. For the huge amount of people, London can be a very lonely place. Most people are pursuing their own personal something with such diligence that anyone else is of secondary importance.
Why are our agendas more important than any others?
All of these observations of movement, and the problems I see within each, come back to the concept of community or lack thereof.
Without community, we walk alone. We rush, we set goals, we reach them, and we cross paths with people then go our separate ways. But what have we achieved?
Community ensures that when you fall, there is someone to pick you up. Community welcomes in the lonely, the ill, the anxious, all with open arms.
Community protects the individual, sees the individual, loves the individual.
Community ensures that you never walk alone.
Community makes your journey meaningful.
As we enter this Christmas season, I urge you to reflect on where you find your community, and to consider who might be looking to you to provide them with theirs.
I have found that all these pure and beautiful aspects of community in one man: Jesus Christ.
Jesus left the splendour of heaven in order to come to this earth, to live among his creation, and to die a death which would restore humanity into community with God.
We had been separated from God due to our human mess- our lying, our selfish hearts, our cruel thoughts-, for how could sin dwell with perfection? But, in taking the punishment for the sins of the world upon his shoulders as he died on the cross, Jesus took away the blame from us. When he rose from the dead three days later, this marked the triumph of God over death, and the hope for all who believe that we have been restored into a loving relationship, into community, with him forever.
Because Jesus lives, community is.
If you want to ask me anything about my beliefs, or to find out more about Jesus, do not hesitate to be in contact.