Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Summer of .... compassion?

Well, it seems, on closer inspection, that the G20 demonstrations are what the Met's David Hartshorn had in mind when warning about the 'Summer of rage'. The World Development Movement has responded () vigorously:
"This ill-considered outburst from the Metropolitan police is yet another example of a distasteful habit of crying wolf about peaceful protest.
"These remarks are insulting to the hundreds of thousands of voters who exercise their democratic right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression."

Likewise, a TUC spokeswoman is quoted in the Morning Star :
"This will be a peaceful march for jobs and economic justice. It is provocative and outrageous to suggest that the thousands of people who will be attending the march are intent on any kind of confrontation."

There may well be anger, but surely Putting People First and seeking an end to War is above all about compassion. Let's work with compassion and urgency- these times call for both - and not be distracted by police alarm calls.

Monday, 23 February 2009

More change in the air...?

Further to my earlier post, I've now found out about this even wider coalition gathering on the Saturday before the G20 meeting in London:

Put People First: March for jobs, justice and climate ahead of the London G20 Summit

They say: "Even before the banking collapse, the world suffered poverty, inequality and the threat of climate chaos. The world has followed a financial model that has created an economy fuelled by ever-increasing debt, both financial and environmental. Our future depends on creating an economy based on fair distribution of wealth, decent jobs for all and a low carbon future."

And similarly, they're hoping to have regional events around the country to get people mobilised for the march itself.

I don't imagine Superintendent David Hartshorn had this particular event in mind when anticipating a 'summer of rage' , but it does feel as though something significant may be in the offing. Is the current state of economic chaos going to make the governments and their leaders more able to hear the depth and breadth of the passion rather than be made deaf and fearful by such news stories?

Change in the air?

The Stop the War Coalition seems to be preparing to pull out all the stops over the next couple of months, with a road show of some of their best-known figure-head speakers, and major demos at the G20 in London and NATO summit in Strasbourg.

Now, this blog is probably not a good example of keeping focussed on a narrowly-defined set of issues, but reading the following from Stop the War did make me stop and think a bit:

Our message [at the April 1st - 2nd: Protest at London G20 Summit] will be 'Yes We Can'. Yes we can end the siege of Gaza and free Palestine, yes we can get the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, yes we can make jobs not bombs, yes we can abolish nukes, yes we can stop arming Israel.

All good things to say yes to, but as a rallying cry for a demo, is there a danger that it's spread too wide? Might as many people be put off as encouraged to join in by this manifesto? In the context of all this, perhaps it'll be even more important that the people and organisations that are already working constructively to those ends are made even more well known to participants and concerned citizens. Are they ready to do this?

My sense from the recent trip to the states is that activists there were very well aware that the big 'Yes We Can' message of Obama's election means nothing if it is not followed up with focussed and dedicated campaigning and active peace-building.