Activism and... good manners

IssueMarch 2014

Well, most people would say that good parenting involves teaching children to be polite and respect others, especially those who might be involved in civic or governmental organisations that are meant to help people in a democratic society. However, there would be clear times that I know of in the past when the best way to help our neighbours, and others in society, would involve what would be clearly labelled as bad manners.

One event that comes to mind is a May Day rally in a small northern English town a number of years ago, where the local MP was brought in to give a speech on May Day. But this MP had done nothing to resist the war in Iraq and both my partner and I, who would normally be extremely polite, heckled him to make clear what we thought of his clear inability to speak out against the war – despite having said locally that he was against it.

A number of people standing near us said we were acting shamelessly, but our speaking out did get in the local paper, which we hoped gave some attention to the local anti-war movement.

Another example from recent times was during the massive G8 demonstrations in Edinburgh and Scotland where people had intended to do some mass demonstrations in a peaceful manner, but when the police horses charged, people needed to vocally and physically defend themselves against that.

The moral is that it’s hard to be polite when horses and baton-wielding police are bearing down on you.

Man, Edinburgh


Good manners? I remember reading about Kurt Vonnegut’s remorse after he got invited to the White House, or some other fancy government do. He was too well-mannered to criticise his hosts in the way that he later realised he should have done.

Good manners can hold you back!

Man, Hastings

Topics: Activism
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