Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Paris Shoe March

A day ahead of the start of the UN conference on climate change (COP21), i.e. November 29, 2015, thousands of demonstrators gathered in Paris and formed a human chain along the route of a long-planned protest march that was banned by the French government in a security crackdown following the November 13, 2015 Paris attacks.

[Note: The deadly attacks in Paris by gunmen and suicide bombers hit a concert hall, a major stadium, restaurants and bars, almost simultaneously – leaving at least 129 people dead and hundreds wounded].

And nearby, thousands of shoes, some decorated, were placed at the Place de la Republique to symbolize the many feet that could not march because of the ban.

The Place de la Republique in Paris, France is covered with shoes. Photo: Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images

A pair of shoes with a sign that says, "If you must choose a fight, let it be the climate". Photo: Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images

Pope Francis also left a pair of shoes on display. Photo: Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images

The climate negotiations happen as weather officials across the globe proclaim that this is the hottest year on record. And they say that Earth has crossed some significant thresholds in climate. The world has warmed by about one degree Celsius since pre-industrial times and carbon dioxide levels now are pretty much permanently above the 400 parts per million mark, scientists say.

I love the Paris "shoe march" because protests are banned under the country’s state of emergency and yet, protesters came to leave their shoes instead. Ten thousand of them.

It says something important. You are there even when you are absent.

On Tuesday evening, I was at the Allianz Toastmasters meeting where I took up two roles, i.e. Humor Master and General Evaluator. It would have been three if I had a speaking slot. Unfortunately, that didn’t materialize. Overall, a good meeting.


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