On shaky ground
Earlier this week, I got a message that a French journalist wanted to interview someone in the UK about their views on ‘milkshaking’, the bizarre new practice of chucking a perfectly good cold drink at another person. Actually, I’m not a fan of milkshakes but I am reliably informed that plenty of people are.
I declined the offer, but it did make me think about what I might have said if interviewed. And in my view it is a stupid idea. If you throw something at someone, there’s a good chance that they will throw something back at you. Or worse. I’m no saint, but neither do I subscribe to the ‘eye for an eye’ doctrine.
We are currently living through a period where debate is replaced by diatribe, and consensus is giving way to coercion in various forms. If I don’t agree with what you say, I can shout loudly to try and drown you out, which seems to be the preferred option of the likes of Trump and Farage. But if I descend to that level too, then any hope of real communication is lost.
Nevertheless, we all want to get our own back at some point or other, so I checked out some acts of protest that did not involve aggression or violence in any form. And where else to look first than the fight for women’s suffrage? As one of the four mounted heralds of the Suffrage Parade on March 3, 1913, lawyer Inez Milholland Boissevain led a procession of more than 5,000 marchers down Washington D.C.’s Pennsylvania Avenue. All entirely peaceful.
Fifty years ago, John Lennon and Yoko Ono decided to use their honeymoon to help champion world peace. On March 25, 1969, five days after their wedding, they got into the bed of room 902 at the Amsterdam Hilton and invited the media. No milkshakes were thrown.
Staying with the food theme, in India in 1930 Mahatma Gandhi led a peaceful protest against Britain’s law dictating that no Indian could collect or sell salt in the country. Followed by dozens, Gandhi walked over 240 miles leading protesters to the Arabian Sea to pick up a small handful of salt out of the muddy waters of the sea.
And here’s one that I had not come across: Estonia sang its way out of the Soviet Union. In 1988, more than 100,000 Estonians gathered for five nights to protest against decades of Soviet rule. This was known as the Singing Revolution. For Estonians, music and singing had for years acted to preserve its culture while this small but independent-minded country held its own during invasion from Germany, Sweden, Denmark and others. In 1991, this country with a population of just 1.5 million regained its independence.
And to stick with the musical theme, and in case you thought the title of this blog was just expressing frustration, I was actually thinking of a 60s pop song by the Swinging Blue Jeans: ‘The Hippy Hippy Shakes’. You can listen to it here: