News, Culture & Society

The image that proves good men really can change the world

Events over the past few weeks have given most of us little cause for optimism. A world still reeling from the effects of coronavirus has erupted into flames over the murder of George Floyd, sparking a wave of violence that has spread around the globe.

At a time when we should be pulling together to rebuild our ravaged communities and economies, it feels as if we have never been more divided.

Hate, anger and fear stalk our streets; dogma and propaganda dominate our airwaves; our social media is rife with bitterness and bile, our politics polarised — and paralysed.

The Far Left and the Far Right, two sides of the same rotten penny, have exploded into violence, feeding off the hurt, whipping up public sentiment, fighting running battles throughout our cities under the guise of so-called ‘civil protest’.

Those of us who have no desire to engage in the vicious culture wars that increasingly seem to define our age have felt powerless in the face of such blind fury.

Hope and human understanding have never felt in shorter supply. Until this weekend, that is — courtesy of an unforgettable image. Dressed head to toe in black, on his face a look of grim determination, a man fights his way through the violence and the chaos, the smoke and broken bottles, pushing past the bloodthirsty crowd.

Hope and human understanding have never felt in shorter supply. Until this weekend, that is — courtesy of an unforgettable image (pictured) 

Speaking to Channel 4 News, he said he was not alone in his endeavour, referring to his companions with whom he’d travelled to the capital to ‘keep the peace’. Pictured: Patrick (centre) with his friends Chris Otokito, Jamaine Facey, Lee Russell and Pierre Noah

Speaking to Channel 4 News, he said he was not alone in his endeavour, referring to his companions with whom he’d travelled to the capital to ‘keep the peace’. Pictured: Patrick (centre) with his friends Chris Otokito, Jamaine Facey, Lee Russell and Pierre Noah

Slung over his right shoulder is a bruised sack of another man, his clothes dishevelled, his eyes glazed, the veins bulging on his arm, his right hand still closed in a fist.

His saviour, Patrick Hutchinson, a 49-year-old grandfather from Wimbledon, has the physique of a superhero and the mind of a philosopher, and in that one moment, the values of a true Good Samaritan, assisting a fellow man who seemingly did little to deserve it.

Not black or white, African or European, victim or aggressor, cop or criminal — but simply human.

I can’t tell you how much that photograph on the front page of the Mail yesterday moved me, as I’m sure it must have moved millions of others.

It wasn’t just the power of his gesture, the strength of his moral compass. It was the sense that in this one heroic act, common decency — which has felt so desperately in short supply in recent days — had been restored.

He is not just carrying his enemy to safety; he is holding a far more precious burden: the weight of sorrow of a troubled world and the hopes of the silent majority.

His saviour, Patrick Hutchinson (pictured), a 49-year-old grandfather from Wimbledon, has the physique of a superhero and the mind of a philosopher, and in that one moment, the values of a true Good Samaritan, assisting a fellow man who seemingly did little to deserve it

His saviour, Patrick Hutchinson (pictured), a 49-year-old grandfather from Wimbledon, has the physique of a superhero and the mind of a philosopher, and in that one moment, the values of a true Good Samaritan, assisting a fellow man who seemingly did little to deserve it

 He himself has been magnanimous in his response to the widespread praise his action initiated. Speaking to Channel 4 News, he said he was not alone in his endeavour, referring to his companions with whom he’d travelled to the capital to ‘keep the peace’.

‘I was just the guy caught on camera with him on my shoulder, but all these guys were all party to it. Without them protecting me, I would have probably got stampeded as well underneath it. So it was a team effort.’

Even so, there is no denying that he led the way.

And there is something else about this image, too; something that, in the context of recent events, means that it touches our souls.

For that picture of Patrick Hutchinson is the mirror image — the photographic negative if you like — of the picture that on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, began it all: the sight of a 46-year-old black man, George Floyd, having the life squeezed out of him by a white policeman kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes. It was a picture of wanton, racially charged brutality that has shocked us all to the core — and led some to take the law into their own hands in pursuit of justice not just for Mr Floyd, but for those like him who have, over the centuries, suffered at the hands of prejudice. And while the anger is understandable — indeed, shared by many of us — the fact remains that two wrongs do not make a right.

That is what those calling for calm have been trying — and failing — to impress. But in his actions Mr Hutchinson has achieved what countless others have not.

He has shown that another path is possible. A path that leads not to destruction, but to reconciliation.

‘If the other three police officers had thought about intervening and stopping their colleague from doing what he was doing, like what we did, George Floyd would be alive today still,’ said Patrick Hutchinson.

And he’s right.

But it takes courage to stand above the crowd, to face down the mob and push back against the desire for revenge and retribution.

And to do so in the midst of the madness, in the heat of battle, to have that clarity of vision and strength of character — those are the actions of an exceptional human being. In recent days, we have witnessed acts of wanton destruction aimed at the effigies and images of those who, for some, represent the injustices of the past.

A few — such as the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol — are more deserving of this badge of dishonour than others.

A few — such as the statue of Edward Colston (pictured being thrown into a river by Black Lives Matter protestors) in Bristol — are more deserving of this badge of dishonour than others.=

A few — such as the statue of Edward Colston (pictured being thrown into a river by Black Lives Matter protestors) in Bristol — are more deserving of this badge of dishonour than others.=

Many are simply part of a history that, while morally ambiguous, is nevertheless an inalienable part of what has led us to become a better, more enlightened nation.

Others — such as the heroes honoured at the Cenotaph who gave their lives for our freedom — have been traduced in a way that shames us all.

Others — such as the heroes honoured at the Cenotaph (pictured boarded up for protection) who gave their lives for our freedom — have been traduced in a way that shames us all

Others — such as the heroes honoured at the Cenotaph (pictured boarded up for protection) who gave their lives for our freedom — have been traduced in a way that shames us all

But the real truth here is that if we are to move forward together, we need to look to the future and not obsess about the past.

We must find new heroes to honour, better examples to uphold. And Patrick Hutchinson, I would argue, is one. How much more constructive, inspiring and uplifting would it be if, instead of obsessing about statues of dead white men, an image of his bravery and generosity of spirit were to be erected for all time as a reminder of the best humanity has to offer?

At the end of the day, anger gets us nowhere. Effecting true, positive change is not about re-writing history or destroying the past. It’s not about virtue signalling or jumping on a Twitter hashtag.

It is about positive action, and actions that are positive. It’s about extending the hand of friendship, showing humanity in the face of inhumanity and doing good in the face of evil.

That is why this image resonates with such power. It is a reminder that good men really can change the world. And that there is hope for us yet.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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