The trick to looking like a vital activist is to rally people against an unarguable evil that they’ll never be able to change. Movie stars, politicians and crowds will always come out to walk against “want”, or say they don’t like child soldiers, or say isn’t it a shame that cyclists keep getting hit by cars on the road. But of course, nothing is ever achieved.
What makes it so hard by comparison to rally people behind a small wrong that could be righted, with a show of just a few hundred people? I say this as the only person in my whole city who, I believe, ever phones the council or police to complain about parked cars blocking footpaths. This is not a clear cut evil, that can be compared to rape as a tool of war. It is an inconsiderate kind of behaviour that exacerbates the inherent dangers of walking in a city where lazy pricks drive. There may be shades of grey too. Some cars blocking footpaths belong to new mothers, struggling with their babies and groceries. And sometimes the risks posed to pedestrians when they have to walk on the road to go around, may be nonexistent.
Nevertheless, cars parked across footpaths is on balance a scourge, and the revenues from fines would exceed the cost of policing. The issue just needs a few hundred people per city to rally, and it would be fixed. I could get hundreds to a walk against want by just sending a text to 10 friends. If I tried organising a rally against inconsiderate parking on footpaths, I know I’d be the only one there.
Author Angus Kennedy casts light on the issue in this article, and this radio interview. He identifies a tendency among people today to be proud of the fact they “live and let live” unless faced with universally reprehensible views, like racism or pedophilia. He says the reason we do this, is because we are lazy. It takes mental effort to form an opinion about cars parked on footpaths, and courage to be publicly seen to have a position. Any dumb coward can join a mass rally against racism, a view for which they can’t be accused, and an issue about which they can’t make a difference.