By Arachne

Different lines

Today I joined a group of XR people outside Barclays handing out leaflets saying that Barclays is the biggest bank investor in fossil fuels in Europe and why that is a problem. It was very different from most actions I've taken part in for two reasons:
- many people spoke little English or spoke English with a foreign accent (presumably newly arrived people needing to set up a bank account know the name 'Barclays' better than, say, 'Nationwide', or 'Co-op').
- very many of those who looked as if English was their native language refused the leaflets and refused to engage.

But in one-and-a-half hours I got two people who said they would change bank. One was a young, newly-arrived South African who'd decided to switch before I told her about Barclays' history of investing in apartheid. She was shocked.

I left before the two-hour action was up because my fellow activist at the entrance was shouting after people who ignored him, 'So don't you care?' and after a while I couldn't bear it. My approach is to build a rapport with people and find common ground. Then at the very least they might go away thinking an XR person is like them rather than an enemy. It wasn't the right place to discuss approaches but I will when I next see him. What surprised me most is that he is a lecturer in psychology. I'd be very interested in his take on his approach to fellow humans.


Him: Ooh, that'll make a lovely photo.
Me: Not quite the way you think - would you like to see?
I show the stranger in the street the picture in the back of my camera with none of the silhouetted skyline that I knew he was seeing as he looked west.
Long silence.
Him: Ooh, I see.
Me: I like lines and shapes.
More silence.
Him: I see.
More silence
Him: That's very interesting. I have a photographer living in my house at the moment... I, I see.

I loved the way he said 'see'. He really meant it.

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