I was just passing through Sainsbury’s the other day (after realising that I’d forgotten my wallet… thankfully before doing any shopping) when I was accosted by a Socialist fellow. I don’t know what made me actually stop to talk to him, perhaps it was just a moment of weakness- not that I disagree with keeping conversation with socialists- just speaking to anyone carrying a bucket and asking for money really.
He quickly handed me a leaflet inviting me to join a young socialists march (which made me smile to think he thought me a youth) taking place, even though a subsequent review of the flyer proved they were using last year’s calendar for this year’s date setting (surely that’s not a socialist hallmark?). Not too interested in marching on behalf of their party, I did engage in some conversatio with the man. Well, I say engage in conversation- perhaps what I should say is that I stood there and listened to him for a good while.
Naturally, as any politically bent individual would do at this time in history, I was informed that nobody was safe- all jobs were at risk, nobody could count on tomorrow’s wages or institutions. The economic crisis effecting the globe would some day end up, decidedly sooner rather than later, knocking on my door and demanding my securities. In the back of my mind all the while I’m thinking that this bloke has no idea about the economic system I subscribe to. I guess the problem was that I was wearing a coat from Top Shop and therefore I was sniffed out as one of those capitalist scum (little did he know that my hoodie underneath heralded a hand-stitched socialist inspired patch proclaiming ‘Join the Revolution’, complete with raised fists and all.)
I digress however. Listening to this well-meaning man who was surely freezing his balls off, snot dripping down his upper lip, a wild look in his eyes as he preached about the saviour, socialism, I could no longer just stand and agree with him on the following points: The middle, working class must be cared for and given a fairer share of the power; Revolution is just around the corner. At that last point I decided I’d heard enough. I explained to the bucket holding man that I agreed with him about caring for the poor and middle classes (actually he didn’t mention the poor, only the middle class), and I certainly agree that revolution will shortly take place. However, I explained, the revolution I believe in and ascribe to begins with the hearts of people- not a political system.
Differing drasticaly in the methods of change, he believing it must start from some dudes on the sidewalk in front of Sainsbury’s to youths marching on behalf of socialist causes, to raising up socialist leaders who will give the power to the people. Personally I’m rather fond of grassroots movements and I’d beg to differ about the approach- I explained that the way I see it, the hearts of people are going to have to undergo revolutionary change that only comes through Christ. Jesus was the most revolutionary thinker of all time. And he did it in a very different way- not from a top-up approach as many would argue on behalf of political parties such as the socialists, democrats, conservatives- whoever really. Jesus argued that revolution comes from the lowest. He really didn’t seem overly concerned by the leaders of his world. He hardly batted an eye at them and he certainly didn’t call their way of doing things into question. What he did was address the lowest of the low. He called them to change, to radical subversive ways of thinking and acting- all motivated by love.
As soon as I mentioned ‘Jesus’ this guy’s nose went up a little bit into the air, as if he smelled more than just my capitalist-aiding coat. Seriously the conversation was over- well not really- he first had to get his bit in about religion and the church and American presidents. First, American presidents have weilded their faith in inappropriate ways. Second, the church is the cause of this whole mess to begin with- she’s apparently in some sort of romantic relations with our governing powers and their capitalist practices.
In the short amount of time that I had left before being abandoned, standing in front of St. Michael’s church in Camden Town, I explained to this fellow that what he must know of Church is all wrong. I told him that in no way is it fair to lump all churches together- he has not been to the church I go to for one. I explained to him that we do agree with some of the tenants of socialism- in terms of supporting the poor (although again, I’d say that he seemed bent only on the middle-class working man), and in terms of agreeing that revolution would happen. He had by this point however tuned out and was only interested in if I wanted a paper for 40p or not. Apologetically- since I indeed had no money in my pocket and furthermore seldom have enough money to buy a 40p paper- I declined.
I’d really be interested in hearing his thoughts when he returned to the table with his colleague. But truthfully, I felt unvalued, rejected because of my faith and my vision of revolution. He could have just as well shoved the bucket over my head and walked away. Is that what socialism is about? Thinking the same? Liberty to think? Or freedom from thought?