Young man in tshirt on Victoria Line.
I didn’t get his name, but he did let me photograph his tshirt. How amenable and how compliant Americans are.
In a charity tshirt myself, I asked him what his meant. He replied that he had bought it online. There was no context to it, not even an “I thought it seemed cool”. It was a slogan with no future. For him at least.
Me, I thought I was sitting opposite a radical-something. I read into it a new campaign for taking back the power, a new-Christian zionism that I only had to Google – once out of the signal-free tube zone; an empowering of the i-generation in monochrome style (helvetica, of course).
I had high hopes for this chance encounter. I thought that such a provocative and cheesy tshirt slogan had to be the work of an NGO or a QuaNGO or a RiNGO or a charismatic John Doe. Instead it was a $15 online purchase worn by someone without the wit or inclination to let it become something he could ascribe to as a free-willed citizen of the people.
But it did make me wonder whether it matters what the wearer thinks, when people around will always have their own interpretation. Assuming, that is, that they even notice.
I had to cross the police line this morning.
But before I could cross I had to give my name, my address and my reason for passing.
In the road parallel to ours, a young man had been shot last night. This morning every road leading out from the site was cordoned off, their occupants not free to go about their business.
I don’t know if they have found the man who did the shooting. I hope they do and that they shut him away for several years in a place where he can learn empathy, life skills and qualifications for future work, so that when he emerges he can re-enter society without feeling the need to shoot people. That is, if society lets him.
But that’s far in the future. A future that I hope won’t mean more police lines and less freedom.
What concerns me is that I did not challenge the police officer’s questioning of me. Perhaps because I needed to get to work and decided this was not the best time for rebellion. But when is? And at what point do the requests of our protectors and politicians become so normal that rebellion becomes too difficult to contemplate?
Sensible people would suggest that I pick my battles. But sensible people do not start revolutions. They may take up the slack once change has happened – bringing the necessary bureacracy to a once vibrant and charismatic regime.
Should I have refused to give my details? Or should I post a petition to number10.gov.uk, start a campaign, blog about it?
I fear that bit by bit I am allowing my freedom to be stolen for the sake of tenuous security. I worry that I am allowing my fears to be manipulated for the sake of others’ love of power. I am considering not crossing the police line…