Culture

2019 Men of the Year: London Commuters

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Social scientists have long been fascinated by the "bystander effect," in which ordinary people remain idle as evil deeds are done. A group of brave commuters at London's Canning Town station showed this year that the opposite can happen too: that everyday people can take swift heroic action when terrorists attempt to disrupt their way of life.

During a chilly October rush hour, a pair of young men—later revealed to be members of an apocalyptic cult—stormed the top of subway cars and began raving. Rather than flee from the chaos, commuters ran toward the threat, swarmed the cars, and bid the individuals to come down. When reason failed, they pelted the cult members with everyday objects—bottles of water and the like—before wrestling them from the train. At great personal peril, members of the crowd neutralized the disturbed young men on the ground, returning the crowded station to normal operations.

Luckily for the public, witnesses on the platform were able to document the whole episode so that the bravery of these anonymous heroes would not go unnoticed.

As heroic as our Men in Blue are, it is inspiring when everyday people placed in extraordinary circumstances rise to the occasion and defend whatever the British equivalent is of the American Way of truth and justice, of apple pie and baseball.