(Photo source) The ‘new weapon’ used by protesters in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, is poignantly brilliant and shows what words cannot. They have already adopted other clever methods including nudity and humour, but this one, to me, beats them all hands down. It is the mirror. Yes, a common old mirror. The 'mirror protest' was staged on 30th December to mark the one month aniversary since the dispersal of a pro-EU rally. See video HERE.
Taken out of context, the photo above shows an elderly lady holding a mirror up to riot police. One of them gazes into it seeing, perhaps, what he has become. Does he stop? Does he think how things ever got to be this way? Is he witness to the aggression in his eyes, the violence in his heart, the lack of compassion in his soul? Does it sadden him? Sicken him?
The riot police in Pungesti could certainly do with some mirrors. An entire street of mirrors for that matter. What THEY have become at the behest of Romanian politicians and local authorities is surely not what their mothers brought them up to be. I doubt it’s what THEY planned to be, either. Bullies. Granny bashers. Child beaters. Persecutors. Oppressors. Nodding puppets.
The pure simplicity in just holding up a mirror to reflect an image back at itself is as artistic as it is daring. "LOOK!!" it cries. This peaceful mirror protest encouraged reflection and introspection before the typical lashing out in hateful violence, while also highlighting something unique in humanity we all share. More 'frontal lobe' is hard to imagine.
(Photo source) Presumably, if the mirrors were to catch on in Romania, they would have to be shatter-proof. I have a scene in my mind – totally fictitious of course: an elderly lady in black with basma tied under her chin stands alone in the middle of a street. Riot police advance towards her and with a flourish of determined courage, she holds a mirror up in front of her. She is only small. It is heavy. But she does it. The first police to reach her smashes it with his truncheon, covering the old lady’s face in broken glass.
Perhaps car mirrors would work, though they are too small? I doubt the jandarmi of Pungesti would have any qualms smashing normal ones, even if it did bring seven years bad luck, as we anglophones say. Bad luck? Things couldn’t get much worse there in any case. Could they?
When the powerless are intimidated through terror by their own so-called peace-keepers, ordered by their own government in peace time, one must surely ask questions. Do these bullies dressed in scarey gear that, to me at least, resembles heavy-duty cockroaches, FEEL anything for their victims? Is there NO element of disgust or shame?
(Photo source) I suppose if you were to ask them, they would say what ALL bullies usually spiel off: "I was obeying orders". It brings to mind Hannah Arendt's essay on Eichmann (and I'm not comparing the two horrors - only the mindset), The Banality of Evil. In it, she says, "the greatest evil perpetrated is the evil committed by nobodies, that is, by human beings who refuse to be persons." In other words, give a 'nobody' a little power by way of a uniform, a truncheon and orders to intimidate - and they suddenly puff up like blowfish with a nice warm rush of importance. Perhaps the first in their lives. But they are not 'people' for they do not (and perhaps cannot) think. They take zero responsibility for their actions. It is a combination of ambition and obedience - a blind, thoughtless, questionless obedience. 'Good civil servants' in an authoritarian environment.
Doing terrible things in an organised and systematic way is based on a twisted grasp of 'normality'. Ugly, degrading, humiliating acts become run of the mill, routine if you like, for they are accepted as just 'the way things are done' in the name of law and order. When you ask why, they shrug with an 'asa ni s-a ordonat'. No thought. Just obedience. Humanity? Compassion? Annihilated by those giving the orders. The 'normalisation' of unthinkable things is easy when money, status and power are at stake - and for the Romanian government giving those orders today, all three are very much in the balance. Bullying tactics seem the only way they know to communicate with their people from whom they have stolen and fleeced and to whom they have lied, betrayed, misinformed and abused. The jandarmi are their gophers.
Those who have been humiliated for so many decades find it hard to stir themselves from submission. But since September, we have seen a massive wave of anger and indignance and heard an astonishingly powerful voice (the loudest since 1989) of unity from the streets of Romania and beyond of which I am proud beyond words. The government are becoming ever more nervous and turn to more manipulative methods of control. But whether the protesters' goal is to protect their mountains from RMGC or their land from fracking, it all comes to the same thing in the end. One cannot blame the foreign corporations for the crimes of the Romanian government committed over and over again. One can no longer tolerate the politicians meant to protect them who have sold them, their homes, their souls and their identities in the name of money, greed and personal gain. That is the message of paramount importance. And as the government sees its own future wobbling so precariously, its response becomes all the more desperate. False flags are fed to anyone gullible enough to listen, deflecting blame anywhere but on their own doorsteps. The media is used, abused and dictated to just like old times.
And of course, the jandarmi carry out their orders obediently like the 'good civil servants' they are. Mirrors are desperately required - literally, morally, spiritually.
Why not start with the literal - reflecting on the oppression carried out 'under order'. I cannot think of a more powerful way to remind these thugs in uniform WHAT they are doing and WHO they have become... It's not implausible that under those helmets and the heavy-duty cockroach suits in Pungesti - and in Bucharest, too - are consciences. Maybe. It happened in Italy - why not Romania?