This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bread & Roses: the march goes on

I have just blogged about Pride: the wonderful and inspirational new movie about the time when a group of gay men and lesbians supported some striking miners in South Wales in 1984. Please go and see this film. You will laugh, smile, cry and (maybe even) punch the air (I did).

At one point the film features a stirring and touching rendition of 'Bread & Roses', sung by Bronwen Lewis (a contestant on the Voice a couple of years ago). The film is all about the power of solidarity. This song punctuates the film with a (musical) note that the struggle for fairness and equality is not just about bread. It is about roses too.

Here are the words to the song (taken from this Wikipedia site):
As we come marching, marching in the beauty of the day,A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray,Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,For the people hear us singing: "Bread and roses! Bread and roses!"
As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men,For they are women's children, and we mother them again.Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!
As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women deadGo crying through our singing their ancient cry for bread.Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.Yes, it is bread we fight for -- but we fight for roses, too!
As we come marching, marching, we bring the greater days.The rising of the women means the rising of the race.No more the drudge and idler -- ten that toil where one reposes,But a sharing of life's glories: Bread and roses! Bread and roses!
(the words are by James Oppenheim)
The original inspiration  for the poem/lyrics came from a speech by Rose Schneiderman who was a notable United States union leader, socialist, and feminist of the first part of the twentieth century. She is quoted as saying "The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too".

It is difficult to contain all of my thoughts and feelings arising from both the movie and this song into a (relatively) short blog post. I could write reams. So here are just a few thoughts:
  • I feel enormously proud and humble to be part of a worldwide movement that simply believes in people as humans, and not just as commercial units to add to a financial spreadsheet.
  • Art and beauty are as important as basic needs: we must have bread but we must have roses too...
  • There is nothing that cannot be achieved when people come together in true solidarity and open friendship.
  • While there will probably always be hate and prejudice, this will always be dwarfed by our capacity to reach out, find common cause and nurture love.
  • There are people who are intent upon building a world based on division and subtraction: but I believe there are many more of us who want a world based on multiplication and addition. (This is the Right and Left Wing Maths of Politics)
  • There is no hierarchy of equalities: creating a sustainable, fair and ambitious world rests on everyone's talents & creativity being honoured and developed. Only then will all people be able to dream and have the resources to achieve those dreams.
  • The people united will never be defeated 
  • Or to quote another movie, everything will be alright in the end. And if it's not alright, it's not the end. The march goes on.
... the march goes on...

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