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I’m not too sure where I heard about “March in March”, but somehow it embedded itself into my brain.
I was captured by the idea – a grassroots movement raising awareness that all is not well in the Australian political landscape. It sounded like a perfect movement for independent punters like myself. Something surprised me when I spoke of the message of the organisation to my passengers and friends – no one had even heard about it!
It also brought back some memories of a learning experience I have never forgotten.
When I was young, I threw myself into what was then still a grassroots movement – The Greens – back in Germany in 1979. Studying business and working in offices at the time, I hungered for relief from the boredom that was my life. I was taken in by Doug and his wife, both special needs teachers, alongside a generation of Germans who took our historical burden very seriously.
As do I, even today.
The education system I grew up in was designed to teach us critical thinking; its main aim to make amends for the past. The message they drummed into us – to keep an eye open so that what happened never happens again – is not easily forgotten.
The burden of the message is that, even though I often would prefer to read a good book, listen to music or watch some crappy television, the state of Australian media and government won’t allow me to turn my back on society.
Anyway, back to Doug and his wife – boy, did they put me to work! I soon found myself dedicating most of my spare time going to meetings, organising community events to raise awareness and running bookstands on Saturday mornings. Being a typical late-teen party animal, these mornings turned into a hangover cure of a very different kind.
The demonstrations we went to were legendary in Germany at the time. I remember 100,000 marchers walking 7kms in -5°C temperatures to a nuclear plant being built, only to be repelled by water cannons and tear gas.
(On the upside, the local farming community provided us with sandwiches and hot coffee on the way back!)
The real education occurred in branch meetings. Basically we were a “mum and dad” outfit called on to do something positive. At times it was tedious, talking about seemingly minor and inconsequential issues such as the coffee break conditions of cleaning ladies at the local hospital ad nauseum. The communal fridge was always filled with beer, which helped “lubricate” me through these kinds of times!
Still, the movement grew and so did the membership, with new faces all round, including the (western) Stasi bloke who all of us avoided like the plague. It certainly got interesting when it came to voting, on action or positions, when the new faces turned up. Over time, these new faces began to be more and more those of organised far-left wingers who took advantage of the politically naive. Needless to say, they got their way every time – it is a democracy, after all, and we had to oblige.
I left soon after and came to Australia to relieve my frustration in the rainforest and on the beach.
I found peace.
So, when it comes to the organisers of March in March, I am left wanting for some more information. Why do I have to sign up to Facebook in order to inform myself about this movement? Who are they? Are they a bunch of old Trotskyists awoken from the dead to take the gullible public for a ride? Are they a bunch of Young Liberals intending to embarrass their opposition? Or are they the real thing – concerned citizens who have had enough?
For now at least, I will happily give the March in March crowd the benefit of the doubt…but in light of my experiences, my message to the organisers of the movement is to realise you have to do a lot more than set up a Facebook page in order to get your message across.
And, more importantly, you must be very careful who you let into your organisation. Just ask Peter Garrett why he resigned from the Nuclear Disarmament Party in the mid-eighties and why they called him a traitor for doing so.
For more info go to www.facebook/marchinmarch (I know, the irony after what I just wrote…)
A little music to go out with…