Here’s a suggestion for a political happening. The aim is to bring focus to what I consider to be one of the greatest threats to the continued existence of our civilisation (to be explained): greed.
I cannot take credit for this idea since I have a faint recollection that someone may have mentioned it to me at a meeting ten years ago. Furthermore, I believe that it has already been implemented in various cities, in different countries.
It’s a fun idea, which does not cost much to carry out. Hopefully, it will open people’s eyes, make some people ashamed, bring joy to others, and finally give those performing the happening a new insight into certain sociological and psychological mechanisms.
Here’s how to do it:
On a pedestrian street, a wide sidewalk or any other kind of passageway with a large flow of walking people stands a person with her pockets full of one pound coins (or one dollar bills, single euro coins, or another appropriate currency). This person has a single task: to give away as many coins as possible to the people walking by.
− Hello, here’s a pound from me. Have a nice day.
Fifty metres further along is another person, who has a single task: to get as many one pound coins as possible from people walking by.
− Excuse me, could spare a pound, please?
What happens is exciting. The pedestrians who first meet the giver would possibly have a tendency to more easily give away a coin shortly after. They become motivated − and a little amused by the world’s random encounters. But those who walk in the opposite direction, and thus meet the beggar first, will hopefully get a little ashamed when they shortly after receive money themselves (well, a few may not need to be ashamed as they actually did give some money to the beggar).
If necessary, there can be two or more givers and as many beggars to better reach out to all the pedestrians. Of course there will be people who only meet one of the “activists” (the beggar or the giver), but that is not important. What’s interesting here, are the two categories mentioned above. How much money will the beggar get? Well, it’s hard to say. But at least, some of the pedestrians will find themselves in a situation where they will feel joy if they give away a pound or suffer from bad conscience or embarrassment if they do not. And that is quite unique in today’s late capitalist society.