Two Old Codgers

How the World strikes us

Most of us would like to change the World in some way or another. That’s what all the mass protests are about. A small vociferous group starts to complain and before you know where you are there are thousands if not millions joining in.

Another of my digressions. You won’t see dramatic, instant results but the most effective way to change things is by changing the way
you do things. Saying thank you with a smile and eye contact; making sure you don’t block the Supermarket aisle with your trolley; Just being kind! It won’t happen every time but sometimes your way will be picked up and passed on.

In the late 19th century the Suffragette movement was spread by word of mouth and demonstrations by very small groups of women. Now, in the 21st century social media
make it easy to gather thousands if not millions to your group in a matter of days. The numbers will include genuine supporters for your cause as well as excitement seekers who get a perverse pleasure out of violence and destructive behaviour. There also seem to be people who be can only described as dedicated protesters. These are the ones who leap to protest at anything and everything, it seems to be a full time occupation (We probably pay for their social security benefits!).

One of the recent campaigns was a World wide protest about climate change. In the UK an eye-watering numbers of school children and
Children protest
teenagers across the UK skipped school and all-important lessons to take part in organised rallies calling on the Government to take urgent action to minimise climate change. A Daily Express poll asked readers: “Should children miss school to protest against climate change?” A colossal 92 percent of readers branded the idea “Utterly ridiculous” and suggested kids should have spent their time in the classroom instead. Comments from those who took part in the survey widely reflected the ballot result. One said: “We used to call it ‘mitching off’ in my day.... now it’s called a climate change protest.” Another said: “These children are being ‘used’ by adult activists and I think it is shameful!”A third added: “If they did their protest on a weekend then very few children would turnout…simple.”

I don’t have the answer but do you think all those young people spontaneously decided to protest about this complicated subject? or were they seen as an emotive group the media would leap upon and persuaded by adults, parents and teachers, to hold up placards designed for them and have a ‘jolly’ day off school.

My personal view is there are better ways of getting change than by holding placards asking ‘Them’ to do something. Just suppose all those children persuaded the adults who drive them to and from school to set off a little earlier and walk with them to the school gates. How many of them would volunteer to give up their continental holiday and have a fortnight in the Lake District or Margate?

It’s like ‘Children in Need’ or any of the huge media driven appeals. It somehow allows us to salve our conscience by throwing money towards a needy group but without ‘Getting our hands dirty’. Don’t get me wrong the money is needed and I am sure it is put to good use but giving a ‘fiver’ or even £50 is easy. Within days, or weeks at the worst, the money you spent will be forgotten.

If you really want to make a difference, give something more precious than cash - your time. There are lots of groups and organisations that rely on unpaid volunteers to support and help people in need. If you have recently visited hospital you will probably have spoken to a volunteer, someone who will help you find the right person to look after you. The local hospice couldn’t manage without volunteers and about 20,000 unpaid Samaritan volunteers take about five million calls for help each year. Why not join them?

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