Books / Short Story / Sullatober Dalton / Uncategorized

Who really drives change?

I mentioned the ordinary people in the last note and it set me thinking about who really changes history. When the Berlin Wall came down did the West Germans welcome those from the East, or did they regard them as job stealing immigrants? When Henry V111 declared himself head of the church instead of the Pope, did the people give a sigh of relief and a cheer, or did they go to the same church to be harangued for not paying their tithes by the same priest. Then, when the local baron took over the church lands, was the only change that the tenant farmers were harrassed by the lord’s factor and thrown off the land while they were alive instead of being roasted in the fires of Hell after they were dead when they didn’t pay? Did Scotland become totally Presbyterian in the Mary Queen of Scots generation, or had the ordinary people already become converted? We’re fed so much about what royalty did but did it really matter to the farmer planting beet in Lincolnshire that Ann Boleyn had her head chopped off? I imagine two neighbours talking – ‘So Queeny’s had her head chopped off.’
‘So I hear. How’s your arthritis?’
‘That word makes me think of yon Laurence that was put stricken off the list for not paying Lord’s dues.’
‘Him with the wife and four children and his old folks?’
‘That’s right.’
‘They were all starving and he stole a sheep and got hung.’
‘And the old folks and the children?’
‘Starving to death.’
Now I have the story of Laurence sneaking about after deer that can’t be counted maybe and finding a sheep. His wife is in a shelter they’ve made in the woods, worrying in case he gets caught. The old folk are huddled round a small fire, small because they don’t want smoke to give them away.
Do they all die or do some of the children survive to become outlaws and take revenge on the factor, or lead the peasants in revolt? Is the new factor as diligent in finding starving people stealing sheep?
Is this what drives change? Is it really in the hands of the Ordinary People. Can ‘THEY’ change things without the Ordinary People’s’ acquiescence?
I know, for me, they are the history, the ebb and flow not of what ordinary people are told, but what they accept. Apartheid didn’t collapse in South Africa because of terrorism but because ordinary people realised it was untenable. The Iron Curtain didn’t collapse because of political pressure, it collapsed because ordinary people rejected it.

Ordinary People