12th October 2010
Today is another sunny Tuesday morning. I like when summer time lingers until mid-autumn. The academic year has started; I will be over busy very soon with all the lesson plans and corrections. This year I have decided to anticipate on my work in order to avoid finding myself into trouble. Last year was a terrible experience and I do not want the same story to repeat itself again. It is ten fifteen, and I will start the day with my daily exercises. Time is running fast. I must harry. Sit ups, press up, and sit ups and press ups again; an hour and fifteen minutes later, I am exhausted enough to go and have a shower. It is hard, sad and strange to grow older. If as a young man, I didn’t need my daily exercises to feel good and have the sensation of starting the day on a good foot, now aged 38, it is clear that things have changed for me; my daily exercises have become imperative.
After the shower, I get dressed and make my way towards those districts of Paris where part of the French Republique history was once written some two hundred and twenty years ago. For any unsatisfied fellow today is the big meeting day that is not to be missed on no account. Like many of my contemporaries I have decided this morning to take part in the demonstration against the government’s bill which intends to extend the retirement age from sixty to sixty two. I have no idea about if I will reach that age one day but as I am unsatisfied with system what else can I do on a sunny afternoon? It is now around twelve and I have finally joined the procession of the unsatisfied not very far from St Michel Metro station. I am walking with them. We are all united somehow defending the same cause. I do not really know where we are heading at this stage, but I am just following the mob and tell myself that it would be nice if we could always be united with such solidarity on all issues. Looking to and fro I can see people of all ages. No doubt, the French students from the Parisian Lycées also feel very much concerned with the reform. They have come en mass.
Another May 1968 may be on the verge of being printed in our history books. I find it quite surprising though that so many youngsters feel concerned with the extension of the retirement age. I am no longer a young man but I do not really feel that much concerned with what is going on in the streets of the French cities at the moment. Maybe this is due to fact that I know deep inside that whatever happens I will have to work until the age of seventy if not more. Unemployment has been more than common for people of my generation. An important proportion of the French population today in their late thirties have spent more years on the dole than at work and the 2008 financial crisis has nothing to do with that. As the matter of fact when those from the deprived districts of the French big cities protest or let go their discontent through demonstrations and disorder we hardly see such solidarity from the rest of the population. Besides, it seems that in time of full employment ethnic minorities in France have too often been relegated to the most precarious jobs because of discrimination.
As I ponder on all these issues I start questioning my presence in that national demonstration. What if that very fight was not really mine? I may be united and demonstrating today with people who just like Jean-Paul Guerlain only see in me another “Lazy Nigger” ( http://www.20minutes.fr/article/610801/cinema-affaire-guerlain-des-propos-inadmissibles-doivent-tenir-chaine-publique ). Had we recently had 3 million people marching in the streets to denounce all forms of racism and discrimination; for sure, the History of our country would have been another story. Another look to and fro at the procession confirms my thought. I do not recognise myself in the different people I see. I finally tell myself that I’d better go back home and let them deal with their own issue: “Nay, really! I ain’t got nothing to do with them people …”.