One of the things I like to do on social media is to join interest groups. I have little time at the moment for hobbies, so it is nice to see what others are doing. It’s a bit like window shopping, which I did a lot of, when I was younger.
The thing that I enjoy most though, is when someone shares a memory. Not a social media memory, but a real moment from the past that they share. Suddenly all these relative strangers connect in a feeling of togetherness as we share our experiences of similar things.
Simple things, usually. Children’s games, shopping experiences, songs shared together.
In times of hardship, these simple things can bring us together.
Just over a hundred years ago, millions of young men and women were hurled into the First World War. To escape from the hardships they shared a simple entertainment, the gang show. Performed by amateurs in simple costumes, they were more like the children’s pantomime than a west end show, but the cast and the audience were all “on the same side” and they laughed at mistakes as well as triumphs. Shared laughter and shared song, in every theatre of war, in village halls and factory floors.
By all accounts, the shows almost always ended with the same song. Everyone would join together to sing “The long, long trail.” It’s a lovely romantic song about hope and togetherness in the face of a dark night of trial. Every November I think about it.
“There’s a long, long night of waiting
Until my dreams all come true;”
I think about all those young men and women sharing a song and making a connection with each other. It’s not sad, or fearful, or lonely. It’s not a stone marker on a cold day. It is a living hope. When I spend a minute to think of those who have died in war, I think of them alive, I think of them as all having a connection, and then I remember that I have a connection with them.
And after that minute’s reflection, I am grateful. Because I have been reminded to share and connect with other people; friends, colleagues, family, even strangers. All it takes is a simple kind act or gesture.
Simple things can be very powerful, they can transcend generations and make a better world.
As Churchill said; “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honour, duty, mercy, hope.”