Erdem Gunduz, pictured, has become a legend… just by standing completely still. He began to stand still, and silent, in Taksim Square, Istanbul last Monday at 6pm and remained there until 2am. In a matter of hours, his photograph was being shared globally.Dignified, powerful, passive resistance.
As someone who is frequently accused (in a friendly, light-hearted way) of ranting – via this blog or on facebook, perhaps I could learn something from Mr Gunduz!
Anyway, I’ve been reflecting on last week’s G8 Summit…
Although any solutions on Syria remain sadly far off, I’m relieved that the immediate prospect of arming the opposition to the Assad government has apparently been put on the back burner – at least for the time being. What WAS heartening, however, was that the G8 has made it clear that tax abuse is an issue of the highest priority and that tax evasion is within the G8 mandate and the requirement has been established to crack open the secrecy on tax havens.
Over the years, I’ve read several books by Peter Millar (former Warden of the Iona Community) and I’m currently reading “A Time To Mend: Reflections In Uncertain Times”. I’ve always found him a very wise man and someone well worth listening to… on a wide range of subjects. Whilst the G8 Summit’s intentions on tax are hardly mind-shatteringly new (or far-reaching), they do perhaps take account of the many protests that have taken place (especially over the past couple of years) about injustices surrounding what is sometimes termed as “predatory capitalism”.
This is an extract from one of Millar’s reflections (“Global Protest at Predatory Capitalism”):
“Around the world people of all ages and of all faiths are saying that enough is enough in relation to our present-day pervasive predatory capitalism. We see this protest expressed in the Occupy London and Occupy Wall Street campaigns. These protests are opening up a long-needed debate about unbridled capitalism and about ethical bankruptcy which lies at the heart of many global financial institutions. This moral vacuum within financial structures has become clearer to the general public following the bailout by governments of major banks. It is also reflected in the growing divide between rich and poor…
There is a growing awareness and a legitimate anger about the unjust ways in which wealth is distributed. But there is more at stake. Many of those who believe in such protests also know that society needs a paradigm shift. As one protester put it: ‘We want to change minds and hearts’. To raise fresh questions in all our minds: Why cannot real change take place? Why are these institutions not more accountable for their behaviour? Is it inevitable that the gulf between rich and poor becomes wider year by year? The British journalist Madeleine Bunting described the aims of the protest in this way: ‘It is about seeding questions in thousands of minds, shaking certainties and orthodoxies so that there is space for new alternatives’”.
Perhaps people in authority have, at long last, started to realise the public, national and international strength of feeling when it comes to injustice and abuse of power? That might be too much to ask… but, perhaps we do all need to become Erdem Gunduzs.