Near the bank of the river Loire I have been talking to a man from Tours. A Frenchman who wanted to practice his English, no kidding. He was very interested in our expedition, he wanted to know everything about our goals and methods, and he agreed that something should be done. But in the beginning, and in the end, he said, “it’s not possible.”
I think that cynicism could be our worst enemy. This man has told me a bit about the French problems. About privatisation of health care for example, where hospitals become enterprises. About politicians governing in their own interest, about democracy being nothing more than an empty slogan, about all the people living on the streets and all the money spent on unnecessary infrastructure.
Everybody knows about these things, and almost everybody knows instinctively that something is not right, but only very few people are convinced that things can change.
I was pretty cynical myself, not so long ago. But I was cured, hallelujah, the moment I entered the acampada in Sol, and saw with my own eyes what people are capable of creating through cooperation.
Public cynicism is bad, but what’s worse is when it enters in the group. I start to notice this these last few days. Sometimes it looks like people are no longer convinced that we can solve our internal problems, so we carry on, complaining about one and other, united only by the will to reach Brussels. It seems as though at the moment the whole is less than the sum of its parts.
All of us are raised with the values of the society we want to change, and this makes it extra difficult for us to step out of the dominant mentality and begin all over. It’s much easier for us to fall back in habit. And cynicism is part of that habit.
So today, we arrived in Tours, a city blessed by two rivers, the Chère and the Loire. In the assembly that we held here, we received a lesson. There were people present from various organisations which have been fighting for the rights of immigrants, for the right to housing, against police repression, against privatisation of water etc. They might not be a majority, but they have been active for years, against all odds.
We have to learn from their perseverance. We have to look at ourselves and realise what we are capable of and what we have already achieved. Marching to Brussels is not enough. We have to be convinced of what we’re doing and saying.
In the end we are, I know that. There are always moments of doubt, but they come and go. This world is going to change. And if it’s not us humans who will change it, it will be nature. And nature knows no mercy.
The first thing we have to do is fight cynicism. The rest will naturally follow. Once people are convinced that change is really possible, that change will come about.