On top of the We're Not Afraid phenomenon (see previous post), there is now a pledge that people can sign up to say that they will march in London here at PledgeBank. The pledge is as follows:
"I will at the earliest opportunity, assemble in London in a public demonstration of respect to the victims of the July 7 atrocity, defiance of the murderers who carried it out and solidarity with the people of London but only if 2500 other people will too."
[ Deadline to sign up by: 15th July 2005.
457 people have signed up, 2043 more needed at time of posting]
It goes on to say:
"In the aftermath of the Madrid bombings in 2004, millions of Spaniards took to the streets to show their solidarity with those who had suffered and to show those who had committed these terrible acts that the people would not live in fear. We at The Sharpener have no experience of organising marches. This pledge is to start the popular movement, to make people remember that the streets of London belong to them and not to terrorists."
I have a few things to say on this, which will inevitably appear curmudgeonly, and are inevitably personal (so this is an opinion bit: ideas to follow below). That is: why march? Why do what Madrid did? If Londoners don't want to rise up in as spontaneous fashion as in Madrid, then why try and engender something unwanted? Furthermore, as an article in the Guardian argues this morning, our "phlegmatic cool" (not marching in protest, rising up, shouting for revenge in megaphones, demanding change etc) is arguably something to be admired. The pledge's slogan is "We Defy Terrorism" and they go to great pains to explain why it is an act of terrorism (the definition of which is often argued over)....but what definition of 'defy' is this? Resisting terrorism? Challenging terrorism (we defy you to do that again)? Or withstanding terrorism? In the knowledge that four young men from Leeds, British born and bred, have blown themselves up to kill innocent people, what does "defying terrorism" even mean? Who are they defying? Who is being shown anything? And why do we think 'they' will listen? Could the energy be better expended elsewhere?
A side-issue: a (cynical) person might ask if PledgeBank is really the right vehicle for organising a mass demonstration anyway....perhaps, as they intimate, they are just trying to get enough publicity so that someone else will come along and do it....but couldn't they do that directly with those organisations involved in, say, the anti-war marches and so on? Seems strange to me.....I asked the Global Ideas Bank audience after the tsunami to contribute their ideas, their social inventions, for addressing the issues raised by that disaster. In hindsight, I wish I had simply asked people to donate (which I did ask as well, and many of them had already) directly to the cause. It was the wrong vehicle at the wrong time.
And finally, on a positive note, there has been almost as much coverage about an idea originating from within East Anglia's Ambulance Service (big up to Bob Brotchie) for an "in case of emergency" phone number in people's mobiles . The basic premise is that people know who to call instantly in case of emergency....which seems a practical thing we can all do: a positive, real step, however small, to make things "better" next time. And there are other ideas and projects, some coming through the SSE here, which can try and address these problems in the long-term. What solutions can we try and generate and come up with to help change the current situation? Defiance doesn't really move us forward.