Last Saturday, as I arrived home from the demonstration downtown, I met my elderly neighbour at the front door. My elderly neighbour is a kindly old lady who typically makes idle chit-chat in the hallway, that is when she’s not complaining about something or other to do with the building and its maintenance, which is fairly frequently.
MY ELDERLY NEIGHBOUR: Oh, hello! Have you been out for a walk?
YT: No, I’ve just come from the demonstration downtown.
MEN: [on guard] Oh?
YT: Yes, the one on Austurvöllur. The one demanding the resignation of the Central Bank governors.
MEN: [shaking head and regarding YT with an expression somewhere between pity and scorn] It’s just so remarkable!
YT: What’s remarkable?
MEN: This … protesting. What do you want them to do?
YT: [slightly taken aback] Um, I want them to resign.
MEN: Oh. I see. You want them to resign. And you think that would solve everything.
YT: Well, it would at least give us back some credibility as a nation. They need to take responsibility for the mess they’ve got us into.
MEN: Ah. So they’re responsible for the mess.
YT: Largely, yes.
MEN: And you have insider knowledge of this?
YT: [laughs] It’s obvious. Just look at the situation we’re in. They screwed up completely. They made one stupid decision after another – and not only that, they failed to back up our currency reserves, they failed to halt the massive expansion of the banks … and now we’re stuck with the bill.
MEN: [voice dripping with sarcasm] I see. It’s obvious that you know all about this. You know all about this, do you?
YT: I know I want somebody competent to run the Central Bank.
MEN: And you? What would you do?
YT: I’d put someone in charge who knows what they’re doing.
MEN: It’s just so remarkable. Everyone is always so keen to protest but they never say what THEY would do.
It was a bizarre exchange. It was so clearly evident that my elderly neighbour, beneath a thin veneer of pleasantries, was absolutely seething. Yet her anger was not directed at those who should be held accountable, but at those pressing for change. It was pretty creepy. And for the first time I found myself literally face to face with the disturbing power that the old establishment in this country seems to hold over so many individuals, almost like they have been hypnotized to believe that black is white, and white is black.
And people wonder why things don’t change around here.
The demonstration, incidentally, drew between 500 and 2,000 people, depending on which media outlet you believe. I would have liked to see more, but at least it was something. There was a great sense of unity and the speeches were both rousing and galvanizing. I do have a slight problem with the focus of the demonstration – the heading was “Davíð burt!” [Away with Davíð!], meaning Central Bank Governor Davíð Oddsson should resign. Personally I think pointing the finger at one individual takes away from the broader issue and puts people off, which is unfortunate. I agree that Doddsson has been a viper in the grass for many years and he should have been man enough to resign from his post as soon as the shit hit the fan a couple of weeks ago – but somehow the man seems incapable of looking honestly and objectively at his own flaws and taking responsibility, so I expect that will never happen.
Anyway, here’s a picture.* The sign reads WHERE IS MY MONEY?:
There is another demonstration, same as the above, scheduled for next Saturday at 3 pm, so if you are in Iceland, please come out, and bring all your friends!
Well, it was a few minutes ago. Snow showers, I guess you could say. At any rate, the ground is all white and it looks beautiful out there, especially since the sun keeps peeking through. There’s a bit of wind, though, so it’s probably cold. I shall find out soon enough as I plan to head out for some air and to get some daylight to hit my eyeballs. We’re nearing the time, my friends, when daylight becomes precious around here. Which would also be the time to start digging out the SAD light. Right now we have 1°C [37F]. The sun came up at 8.40 am and will set at 5.42 this afternoon.
* More demonstration pics here.