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A Therapeutic Occupation in London


Last night was my first visit, on my way back from work, to the Occupy London Stock Exchange camp at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Meetings were being held in circles on the ground, people were busily tidying up or collecting dinner from the kitchen tent, while yellow-jacketed police hung around. The aims and strategies of the protest and the dismissiveness of establishment commentators towards them are well publicized and need not be repeated here. What was most striking for me was the emotional and psychological effect that would surely elate any visitor without a heart of stone. The protest wasn’t just demanding an alternative, it was the alternative. A few spine-tingling seconds of conversation provided instant relief from the sullen and introverted commuter-world that I had just left. It was powerfully uplifting: worries evaporated away in an instant. But no media will communicate that feeling. When I expressed concern about the coming winter, I was instantly corrected by a woman who hugged me and said: ‘Nah, we’ve got human warmth!’.  The woman in the media tent to whom I handed my cash donation already had a fistful of notes. She beamed at me, saying that people had been throwing money at them all day. Mindful of the forced evictions of Travellers at Dale Farm that afternoon, where police allegedly used tasers against protestors, I said I hoped they would they still be here next week. 'Oh yes!' My few pounds felt like a little recompense, a step towards absolution of the crimes that have been committed with our tax money when, as is too often the case, our silence is taken as assent. 

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