Preparing for the dance…
The 20th of October felt like it was a about the gradual realisation of the need for unity; an acceptance that our grievances are many, our banners are many, our approaches are many and our participants diverse but action by all, is essential. There was an obvious shared desire to make a statement about the state of our society and that statement, if it was encapsulated into a single sentence, would probably be something like:
“The current system benefits those who need it least…
…crushing the people and planet that need it most”
Amidst the multi-coloured banners representing unions and workers, groups with a focus on peace, justice, education, welfare and the disabled as well as clusters of anarchists, socialists, communists, environmentalists, anonymous and too many more ‘ists to list – I found others from Occupy the London Stock Exchange woven throughout.
There we were:
-in and alongside wheelchairs blocking crossings, delaying traffic and raising awareness of the plight of those suffering so unjustly under ATOS. I put my foot on the corner of a street banner that was spread out over the crossing, to hold it in place; three more feet of passers-by appeared within a moment to hold the rest of it in place. Strangers smiling at each other because we know that this problem is a society problem and we are all truly (rather than sound-bitingly) in this together.
There we were:
-some of ours wore black; tapping police shoulders to engage in a game of tag and running through the shops most deserving of attention on Oxford and Regent Street. The target stores were easy to find even for those not aware of the vast sums of tax evasion by their owners or the abuse of the work schemes; the places that are criminal had a police guard, which made this educational and slightly amusing. I approached one of the police outside Starbucks and said how strange it was that they were there to protect the criminals but how convenient it was that they were showing us exactly who on the high streets deserved our attention.
There we were:
-standing with megaphones and informing parts of the march about the environmental issues that are too often ignored and down-played in the media. I personally was on the march both as part of Occupy the London Stock Exchange and as a representative of Residents Action on Fylde Fracking (www.stopfyldefracking.org.uk) and set off from the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral with the Climate groups… although I would have symbolically started there anyway because there is a certain ‘something’ about that place where we camped at the heart of the City of London.
There we were:
-banging drums, blowing whistles, shouting, dancing and chanting with others in Samba bands, big brass bands, a (surreal) Hari Krishna band on wheels and other noise making areas of the march.
The ‘official’ figures are saying something like 150,000 marched but one of the people counting at the gates to Hyde Park had said earlier that she was looking at 300,000+ based on density, depth and length of the crowd that was being counted at various points.
The night before the march I wrote;
“So… what’s tomorrow all about? Well, for me it’s A kaleidoscopic array proclaiming the sneezes, coughs, wheezes, rashes, tingles, cuts and grazes of society’s weeping ills, gathered in a display of dis-ease on the streets of London; as has been on so many other streets – near and far away on other days.
Symptomatic evidence blitz so loud, so clear, so proud… nothing left to fear the march embarks on an anarchical journey that will twist symptoms, from lines into genome spirals, wound and UN-rivalled into a woven mass of ‘we the people’. A gathering, a blossoming, a holy mother-fck*ing mass of bothering!”
…and it was.
Finding our unity is going to be a bit like getting the choreography right; we start with steps alongside each other before we can get to the bit where we embrace. We ARE many and each has been under the influence of their chosen media, their education, upbringing, race, religion and status in society – trying to fix the things that matter to ALL of us was never going to be a smooth ride with a clear route-map and destination.
Within the mass of people who are ‘Occupy the London Stock Exchange’ we have extremes and differences just like all the other groups and society itself and in those early weeks (I always consider the first 3-5 weeks as golden) we struggled, debated, argued and assembled in order to find the stuff we could agree on. Each time we hit a stumbling-block, a subject too hard to agree, we stepped back, paused, sorted a working group, engaged the different opinions and slowly edged forward from small points of agreement.
It isn’t fast, it isn’t easy and it isn’t even pretty yet – but one day we will have taken enough steps alongside each other to be dancing.