It doesn’t have to be like this.

Shift 1: From Serving To Learning

On Sunday, Johnson moved from commanding us (“Stay Home”) to serving us. He talks of giving us freedom. Ours is now to choose and be self-reliant, not obey and be dependent.

Shift 2: From Central To Local

The outstanding example of the Citizen story in action to date is the spontaneous explosion of grassroots Mutual Aid groups, which councils across the country then came in behind to support, structure and safeguard (Community Response Kirklees is a particularly impressive example, and a place we at NCP know and love).

Shift 3: From “Us and Them” To “A Larger Us”

(Language borrowed from the Collective Psychology Project)

A time to act

In A Paradise Built In Hell, her 2009 book about human response to disasters through history, the American philosopher and activist Rebecca Solnit describes how communities invariably come together, developing new ways not just to survive but to thrive, healing old wounds, and finding joy in the process; but also how they often find that the authorities supposed to protect and serve do them more harm than good. Driven by fear and lack of understanding, they crush what is emerging before it can take hold. She articulates the root cause of this phenomenon, which disaster scholars call “elite panic”:

“The elite often believe that if they themselves are not in control, the situation is out of control.”

So many of us in this time have already done so much, but far from seeing this as a burden we cannot wait to set down, we have taken joy and pride in doing so. There is so much more I could write about by way of evidence: I have not even touched on the role of businesses and charities, local and national, and the way many of them have shifted into entirely new ways of working that invite us to be part of their purpose, not just consume their services.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Jon Alexander

Jon Alexander


Co-Founder, New Citizenship Project and Author, CITIZENS: Why the Key to Fixing Everything is All of Us