WHENEVER I scroll down the drop-down list of countries in the world – many with appealing and exotic-sounding names – in order to enter a UK address and complete a booking or a purchase, I am struck by how many countries are suffering from civil wars or conflicts with their neighbours.

What hits me is the image of the human world at war with itself, and above this, the scourge of climate change and ecological collapse stretching like a dome. 

In the face of this, our response can be either to adopt an angry and polarised approach to problems or sink back into a state of helpless passivity.

Fortunately small acts of kindness can play a vital part in keeping us sane, as well as keeping channels of communication open with people with different opinions. And not least the hope that change is possible.

Neil Gaiman’s hopeful and beautifully illustrated book “What you need to be warm” has just been published, and the book sales will help support the work of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. 

It has gathered everyday stories of kindness from across the world. It bears witness to the importance of working together for a more generous world, but without denying the problems facing us.

The kindness of strangers can be found everywhere, and as an attempt at promoting this there will be a give-away stall (“TODAY IS A GIFT”) of donated pre-loved clothes and toys in Taunton High Street this Saturday, November 18, between 10 am and 1 pm.

Apart from working together to help create a more generous society, it will also act as a reminder that the production and transport of clothes adds about 10 per cent to greenhouse gas emissions in the world, quite apart from the problem of landfill from surplus clothes. Attitudes and actions working together. Now, what are we going to do about the remaining 90 per cent?