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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Saturday, July 02, 2005
    History is for the future

    It has its weaknesses [see for instance the Zmag expose, Inside the murky world of the UK's Make Poverty History campaign]. And in Edinburgh today it was quite possible to party along with the other thousands there without being politically provoked at all. But today is not a day for brow-beating; that can come, and should come, and I hope the harder-edged demos in Gleneagles next week get their points across well.

    The very good thing about today, for me, was that our coach party - which spent nine hours together travelling, and five hours queuing on Edinburgh's Meadows - consisted predominantly of young people. My guess is that half our party was under fourteen. They'd been well-educated and prepared by caring adults, they'd spent hours together in the week designing their own t-shirts, and banners for the party, and some of them had even been on a Radio Merseyside news feature yesterday, about their impressions of the Make Poverty History campaign.

    On that programme one six-year-old girl was asked why she would be marching, and she said, "Because we get three square meals a day and they don't get any." Campaigning does get more complicated than that but, really, she summed it all up for the rest of us. The children mixed their sense of festive fun on the fields today with profound seriousness at this straightforward injustice, they understood that more just trade rules would address it, and had an experience which formed many of them into campaigners. A long way away from the shallow pomp of pop star rhetoric, this is what made today worthwhile for me.