Today as I left to board my train I hugged a person I known for a mere few hours. On my back was the coat of a person who I’d known equally little and my belly was full of food financed by someone else. By some bizarre twist of fate I’d ended up at the Occupy London protest at Saint Paul’s; their own self confessed attempt at changing the world.
I can’t say I’m your typical socialist candidate. Ever since my first Lib Dem vote in the 2010 elections I’ve been left disillusioned and lost. I’ve flirted with most sides, increasingly finding myself labelled either one of those “nutty lefties” or an “almost out of the closet Tory”. I think my problem is that no real party or ideology seems to offer me all of the right answers, or at least a good percentage of them. Whilst I know the system is fundamentally broken, I’m not really sure how to fix it.
It’s a slur often thrown against the Saint Paul’s protesters; they’re fighting, but can offer no concrete answer, no miracle solution to pave the way to enlightenment. They’re deemed as fickle and causeless if they occasionally go home at night and are frequently branded as high in the sky hippies, without any real contribution to society, just searching for an unattainable fantasy.
But these are not the people I met today. These were people with careers and aspirations, who laughed at hippies trying to change the world through music and were dubious about the merits of the didgeridoo. People with a simple hope for a better future and the discourse and intelligence to discuss.
As you wonder round Occupy London you’ll find many things; a kitchen, a first aid room, welfare tent . . . But above all a place for learning and active debate. A library offers free books and a “university” offers lectures and speakers, but beyond this they’ve created something more, a tangible space for discussion and change.
Everyone here has an opinion, a passion to have their voice heard and whilst they may not all be right, they’re getting there, or at least trying. Though the protesters at Saint Paul’s may not hold all the answers, they harbour an impetus for change which is only growing. And perhaps that impetus is all we need.