The Power of One

Hmmm …. people are simultaneously simple and complicated.

Yesterday afternoon I snuck (is that even a word?) into my Director’s office when he wasn’t there so I could look out his window at the climate change protestors.

There is something so powerful about large groups of people moving together as one. This is why I cry at the theatre when everyone comes onstage at the end. This is why the roar of the crowd at the footy is so electrifying and why we get chills at a rock concert when the crowd sings.

I loved every minute of it. The ones that had passed by, the ones directly below me and the seemingly endless stream still making their way down the street. 100,000 people marched in Melbourne alone.

A girl had a sign that said “There’s no plan(et) B”. Then there was one that said “Recycle your signs”. That made me smile.

There were school kids everywhere; some still in uniform. There were entire families with young children; some even in prams. Looking towards the junction of the cross street I could see the Worker’s Unions descending on the crowds to join in. They may have had their their own agenda, but so what. They are good at protesting and it just seemed right to have them there.

I snuck back out and went to my desk. I couldn’t see them from my window but I could definitely hear them. Someone behind me piped up and said “They should all be shot.”

“Really? Even the children?” I queried

“Well, you know …. They don’t even know why they are there most of them” he said “Bloody parents should be at work”

“So we are shooting the kids for standing up for something that they don’t fully understand, but they know in their hearts to be right, are we?”

“We should at least get the water canons out. It’s a f&$kin crock of s$&t.” He announced. “The planet doesn’t need saving”

“You’ve decided have you?”

“And what they don’t understand” he continued “is that the industries they are protesting against made this economy. If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be where we are today”

(“In more ways than one” I thought)

“So what do we do”I asked. “Continue down the wrong road? Shouldn’t we try to correct our path? Maybe it’s not too late”

“What do I care. I won’t be here anyway.

At that, I looked around and everyone had turned away and were shaking their heads slightly.

I’ve been thinking about this conversation a lot over the last 24 hours. By his own admission this guy is not always very articulate. What he was trying to say in our conversation was parroting some of what he had heard others say. The trouble is he is loud. And he is confident and he likes to be controversial.

He took snippets of someone else’s opinion and isolated them as his own. He couldn’t back up his argument so he used the threat of violence to add weight and mask any flaws and that, ladies and gentlemen, is how a violent extremist is formed.

Just an observation.

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