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BLOG TOPIC: CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

I have in the past been disobedient. I was disobedient at my boarding school because I felt that the wearing of school caps stigmatized the boys and I was against caning which was still in force. On top of this at the age of sixteen I did not like the idea of having to attend prayers and church when I did not believe. There was a whole litany of things wrong with the educational establishment, and I decided with some friends to be disobedient. We were supposed to go to church. We did not. We occupied the top dorm room and on my instructions barricaded the doors. From the roof we played Alice Cooper's "School's Out" - it was my last year at school in 1973. I doubt if I really formulated things, and though we entered into negotiations, it was mostly to wind down our protest and escape punishment. In the annals of the school history it was remembered by few. Earlier I had been moved by Martin Luther King - at art college I read Gandhi and at university Thoreau. Ever since I have believed that if there is an injustice then civil disobedience accompanied by non-violence is the approach. Often that sixteen year old kid reminds me - yes if you are going to do something, it must count for something, and it must be followed through. I believe that the objectives should be ironed out clearly and that a mandate supporting the action received. In the face of adversity, one should not give in - unless it will involve harm - the idea of sacrifice is wrong. One should not have to suffer injury to arrive at ones goals. Why be a martyr? Unless you are of great courage - and most of us faced with a rattlesnake will cringe and run. Bruce Lee taught us to run. But before giving in to force - one needs a second plan, another course of action which can amplify the wrong they have done and serve your cause. When I was on top of the roof of the boarding school, I felt a sweet sense of liberty, and even though we did not make the changes, we succeeded in being disobedient and communicating our points in a dialogue, moreover making sure none of us suffered consequences, and to the credit of the school we did not. I would bring in Thomas Paine here, a hero of mine, his experience, his stand against all authorities, during the time of two bloody revolutions, was heroic because he was at all times a pacifist - who could tell the revolutionaries to spare the life of the king? This pacifist message should be the cornerstone of the current protests - I am afraid often the enemies the bankers, police and government are personalised and targeted in an aggressive way - that is at odds with my notion of civil disobedience which ultimately seeks reconciliation and consensus on issues of distribution and justice.