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Gestures with meaning

Most of us would like to feel we could ‘make a difference’ by ‘doing’ something about things that concern us, like the wasteful use of resources, environmental damage or climate change, but most of us do not have our hands on the levers of power to make a big difference.

So we resort to gestures that might influence those who hold power. We write to MPs, go on protests, hold meetings, or ... ring bells. Of course ringing bells doesn’t mean anything unless people know why you are doing it, the same as walking to Trafalgar Square doesn’t mean anything unless people know why.

On 13th December, during the Copenhagan talks, our bell ringers responded to a World Council of Churches call to ring performances of 350 changes at 3pm. The 350 symbolises 350 parts per million CO2, which it we ought to try to get back to.

15 minutes ringing on a Sunday afternoon is hardly remarkable, unless you know why it is being done, and that the same thing is happening in many other places, which is why the Rector issued a press release. A press photographer spent 10 minutes taking goodness knows how many pictures before we started, but the article never made it into print. So the people of Wokingham never knew about our gesture for climate sanity.

The picture wasn’t wasted though, and was published a couple of weeks later under an article featuring the ringers as a local community group.

John Harrison (January 2012, not published)


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