In Praise of Flashmobs | Connecting with Culture
Has your week left you despondent at the state of your workplace, your commute, your politicians, your fellow humans, or even yourself?
If so, I can suggest a remedy that is guaranteed to make you smile: watch a few flashmob videos on YouTube.
The format is a familiar one, often starting with a lone voice crying out in the wilderness of a shopping centre or airport arrivals hall. Initially drowned out by the hubbub of the place, the voice is soon joined by others, and a song starts to take shape. Singers emerge from shops and cafes, from behind pillars and posts, and coalesce around the song. Passers-by start to take note. They stop and stare, mystified at first. Their attention, scattered in a hundred directions until now, quickly tunes into the singers and the song, and an ordinary place is transformed, for a few minutes at least, into a place of wonder.
There’s something disarming about a flashmob. The stern-faced security guard breaks into a broad grin; a cluster of self-conscious teens start to dance. Initial bewilderment gives way to surprise and joy. A flashmob can be seen as a gift of grace – something creative, enriching, and beautiful taking shape from within the mundane and the routine. Given freely and without favour to anyone who has ears to hear, it’s a secular form of blessing.
There is at least one occasion when Jesus creates a ‘flashmob moment’, catching people off guard through a creative act of expansive, exuberant grace. John’s story of Jesus feeding the five thousand captures the disciples’ initial bewilderment at Jesus’ commands, followed by the break-in of God’s blessing over a mass picnic, and the people’s growing realisation that something extraordinary is happening in front of their eyes: ‘Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world’ (John 6:14).
Perhaps we should ask how we might be able to create our own flashmob moments – disarming and blessing our work colleagues or local communities with unexpected, unconditional, seemingly random acts of grace. What could it look like for you? Going the extra mile for a stressed boss? Preparing a cooked meal for an elderly neighbour? Blessing your local area with a litter-pick or a street party?
Whatever it might be, surely God will rejoice over us. With singing.
Nick is an HR Consultant with a background in Psychology