November 1, 2011

The Awkward Protester.

 Where I get a bit twitchy and pre-occupied with purpose.

It’s a blowy Monday in Dublin and I’m feeling self-conscious. I breezed in on my bicycle, now I’m holding it like a security blanket. I’m trying to look like I belong, but I don’t know anyone here and could be mistaken for just another onlooker, of which there are many.

I remember I’ve brought my camera with me. I snap away purposefully. The little tents look out of place on the concrete forecourt, like something a child, determined to go camping in the back garden, would put together.

There are handmade posters taped about the place too. Not Disney princesses or Winnie the pooh, but drawings of evil bankers and strangled economies and Irish flags.

The Occupy movement came to Dublin at the weekend and I’ve come down to take part but so far I’m having trouble getting into the swing of things. I don’t really know what I thought it would be like, more civil rights chic and less Glastonbury campsite, I suppose.

In my book, Maya Noise, I describe how I became enlightened in 1996 and how part of that realisation was about taking responsibility for everything in my reality, regardless of whether I knew how to change it or not. That included politics and business, both of which didn’t have much realness or heart or beauty, not compared to laughter, or sunshine, or dust swirls and the like. So I left politics and business on the periphery and focused on the good.

Then the social media phenomenon came along and seeped through the membrane between my reality and the next person’s, so that real communication, unfiltered and unmolded, could happen.

And now here I am with a bunch of people I don’t know personally, but because they’re here I know share a common recognition that things need to change. This is not just trendy crowd surfing. I’ve done my research. I’ve read and read and read, and the more I’ve read, the more there is to read and, probably like many people, I’ve come to the conclusion that all my research hasn’t changed my gut feeling that I sum up in simple phrases like, “It’s just not right.”

Take the situation here in Ireland. I don’t know all the facts, and I’m not an economist, but I don’t have to be to know that there’s something very wrong with our banks behaving criminally and getting away with it, then being bailed out by the government, then having your average Irish person shouldering the burden. That’s just not right.

And I’m not saying your average Irish person wasn’t complicit in the Celtic tiger biting them in their own arse. When I returned to live in Ireland five years ago, it was full of self-admiring amateur property developers, many of whom are on the dole now. I think your average Irish person would now admit that their aspirations to own an investment property in Estonia were a little excessive. It’s not talked about much now, like a drunken table top dance at a wedding, there’s a general feeling of, “I’m not proud of it, but hey, I was drunk.”

And while your average Irish person got drunk on the wave of money washing through the country, what was going on below the surface went unnoticed. When the tide finally went out they were left on the jagged rocks of a shockingly corrupt banking system that the government has been ineffectual to do anything about. There have been two elections in the last five years here, yet nothing has changed. Unemployment is high, negative equity is even higher with many people trapped in homes that were thrown up in the boom years and are now worth a quarter of the huge mortgage they are left to be pay. No bailouts for them. Meanwhile the good old boys of our banking elite play hide and go seek with their millions, all the while hysterically demanding bailouts for their institutions in order to “save the county from financial catastrophe.” And they get them! Like I said, it’s just wrong.

My fellow protestors have started chanting. One person leads the refrain and the crowd repeat it in a sort of human megaphone.

“We’re having a meeting…”


“At two o’clock.”


“If anyone would like to volunteer…”


It reminds me a bit too much of Catholic mass so I take it as my cue to leave. I haven’t been here that long but I will return again often. I will add my photos to the stream. I will “Like,” and tweet, and share, and promote, and generally take my place with the millions of other strangers who I would probably disagree with about many things except one; that things can be better, kinder, softer, more caring and more loving.

If this article resonates with you please share it with your friends, real and virtual.

Read 10 Comments and Reply

Read 10 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

John Dalton  |  Contribution: 1,400