Just Beneath Our Feet
The Victoria and Albert Museum is dedicated to design but it does not forget the designs of mind that we refer to as philosophy and ideology. On the steps, leading to the main entrance, are these words:-
Step 1 Top – Civil disobedience is not our problem. .. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem. (Howard Zinn)
Step 2/1 – Greed is stopping human evolution .. the richest people own half the world (Oxfam Charity)
2/2 – What is the crime of the bank robber compared to the crime of founding one (Bertolt Brecht)
2/3 – It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking system for if they did I believe that there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning (Henry Ford)
2/4 – During times of universal deceit telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. (Eric Arthur Blair pen name George Orwell)
Step 3/1 – Every effort for progress, enlightenment, for religious, political and economic liberty, emanates from the minority, and not from the mass. (Emma Goldman)
3/2 – No real social change has ever been brought about without revolution (Emma Goldman)
3/3 – Revolution is but thought carried into action (Emma Goldman)
3/4 – A riot is the language of the unheard (Martin Luther King Jr)
3/5 – The thing worse than rebellion is the thing that causes rebellion (Frederick Douglass)
Step 4/1 – There’s no reason for the establishment to fear me. But it has every right to fear the people collectively – I am one with the people (Huey Percy Newton)
4/2 – The history of progress is written in the blood of men and women who have dared to espouse an unpopular cause, as, for instance the black man’s right to his body, or a woman’s right to her soul ( Emma Goldman)
Step 5/1 – We declare our right on this earth, to be a man, to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence, by any means necessary (Malcolm X)
5/2 – It is easier to build strong children than to mend broken men (Frederick Douglass)
Step 6/1 – Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds (Bob Marley)
6/2 – Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and passion to reach for the stars and change the world (Harriet Tubman)
6/3 – Question Authority (Socrates)
Step 7 Bottom/1 – Think for yourself act for others (Kenny Zulu Witmore)
7 /2 – The essence of your life is only measured in the way you can help others (Herman Wallace – 42 years in solitary confinement)
7/3 – I rebel therefore I exist (Albert Camus)
7/4 – I am an artist your rules don’t apply. The revolution will be ceramicised ( The Treatmentrooms collective)
Inside can be found.
London and the UK in general has always had a subversive and irreverent streak. It did not entirely begin in the 60’s but in the 50’s when people sought a better world after the ravages of world war. Many of the quotations stem from the philosophers of that time. Equality of race, gender and creed was fought for in the pursuit of the fellowship of humankind. History shows that the wish keeps on being born and is therefore indomitable. It scared the greedy then and it still does.
We have much to value in the freedoms that were won by those of the past, but the price of that freedom is eternal vigilance. The phrase is attributed to many, but probably originated from John Philpot Curran in 1790. It is not a new recognition. It is not a new problem. It is not a new battle. But there is always a new step, same as it ever was.
So incredibly powerful and moving. The first three just knock it out of the park! Thank you Graham.
November 23, 2014 at 20:50
You are welcome. I’m glad it struck a chord. It is our legacy. 🙂
November 23, 2014 at 22:22
The one that struck me most is 7/2. Such goodwill from one who had suffered such ill will. Something to believe in.
November 23, 2014 at 22:32
I never noticed those steps when we were there and the quotes are great. Thanks for sharing!
November 23, 2014 at 20:52
Your are welcome. Such great things that shaped the better part of our world. 🙂
November 23, 2014 at 22:23
Oh I love these! As our people squabble over which party is better – Republicans or Democrats – I can’t help but be bewildered as it is obvious to me that no career politician ever looks for what’s best for anyone but him/herself. I’m a nonviolent sort, but I surely vote at loudly as I can. Civilization has come a long way, but I believe we have a long way to go yet.
November 23, 2014 at 23:08
Well said and a long way indeed, thankfully better than nowhere. 🙂
November 24, 2014 at 02:51
Wonderful words and I love that entrance.
November 27, 2014 at 15:14
November 27, 2014 at 15:44
That one by Bertolt Brecht.. Hilarious! 😀
And surely love that one by Howard Zinn.
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February 14, 2016 at 12:38
Some of those quotes along the steps really made me stop and think. MLK had such moving words!
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June 13, 2017 at 22:53
He certainly did. I was pleased to see a London institution showing a subversive streak. 🙂
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June 14, 2017 at 09:36