I sometimes wonder whether we will ever truly understand human nature. There are some of course who know more than others and can make sense of people’s behaviour and why they act as they do. For most of us though we are probably aware that human beings are generally complex, inconsistent, lovable, annoying, flawed and endlessly fascinating. And so people vary. We vary from each other, as we know. It is just as well of course that we are all different. And individuals vary in themselves from time to time. Very few people are indomitably cheerful or positive. If they were, we would probably find them irritating. It is important to have empathy and understand what it feels like to experience despair and disappointment. Yet, despite all our differences, we so often manage to come together and feel a sense of common purpose.
And we live in a complex, unjust and frequently depressing world. Can we find hope and good cheer somehow and the resolve to try to make the world a better place? We can certainly find encouragement when we attend meetings or observe or participate in protests, especially when there are feelings of unity, friendship and passion.
Over recent decades we have seen a remarkable rise in the number of protests. We have become increasingly aware of and knowledgeable about the level of inequality all over the world, the corruption in political life, the inappropriate priorities of so many governments, the precarious future that faces our planet, the violent behaviour by a number of police forces, the widespread wars and conflicts. These have all mobilised people to protest about social, economic and political grievances.
The recent protests demanding a ceasefire and a just settlement for the Palestininas have been astonishing in their size. People have shown a willingness to turn out again and again, sometimes at short notice. Along with the anger and disgust that we all feel about the Zionists’ outrages, there has been a new sense of purpose, of determination, of unity, of vibrancy. And the atmosphere is kindly, welcoming, safe, friendly and caring, as people walk together. There is no threat, no sense of danger. Families march with children and often with their pet dogs. Although at times our police officers are heavy-handed in their response, at many of the marches the police presence has been very low key, with police officers commenting on the peaceful nature of the pro-Palestine marches, saying that they are mainly there to deal with violent counter-protestors.
And a new sense of unity has spread. Perhaps Palestine has achieved this, and the vicious genocide that we are witnessing day after day has somehow aroused a new type of global consciousness. The widespread outrage at the Zionist destruction of Palestine has developed into an internationalist protest movement. Many people have become increasingly aware of the evil that has been done to the Palestinians over decades and are rising up in anger in the full knowledge that their leaders are, especially in the west, complicit or even directly involved in the slaughter and devastation.
And demonstrations have erupted around the globe. They vary in nature and size and their attitudes but they all condemn Israel’s killing in Gaza, demand a ceasefire and aim criticisms at the United States and its allies for its support for Israel. And the movement has felt truly global. We have seen footage from the US, South America, Australia, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe, despite attempts to ban them in some countries.The banners visible among the sea of Palestinian flags being borne through London streets are from people from all over the country, are those of religious groups, trade unions, environmental groups, medics, teachers, people from so many different protest and pressure groups. People of all ages and from all walks of life join in. We are aware of our differences in age, religion, language, culture, ethnic background or beliefs but we can embrace or transcend our differences. So in our diversity the movements to achieve justice for Palestine have created a strong bond. Our views may differ, our beliefs may differ, our cultures may differ, our personalities and behaviour may differ, but when it comes to Palestine we are undivided. And in this unity, despite opposition and setbacks, we gain energy and momentum and determination to keep fighting for a ceasefire and for justice for the Palestinian people. More than one reason to be cheerful.
As people march through cities all over the world shouting, “In our thousands, in our millions, we are all Palestinians”, there is a strong feeling of universality. A real sense of internationalism has developed as increasing numbers of people recognise just how shameful the political establishment has become the world over. We must challenge and fight against the whole system as it oppresses people everywhere and has led to the unspeakable evil unleashed upon the Palestinian people. This is surely a turning point.