Ritualistic behaviour

Yeah, we all do it.  One of my favourites is displacement activity
See also Anxiety-management rituals, Zombie repertoires, marchesmeeetings, rallies, Smugosphere

From the brilliant novel “Mud” by Nicky Edwards, with a burnt out activist explaining Greenham Common to an 80 year old woman called Ada.

“OK. Once upon a time there was this big day out at a peace camp, when Janet and Janet and some Johns, but mainly thirty thousand or so Janets went and held hands and sang songs and generally had a good time…. Lots of adventures for the Janets. But time passes, until it’s a year after that first day out in the country, which so many of our heroines found so inspiring. Almost exactly a year to the day…. Well, our particularly Janet is there, of course, older and a bit more battered and generally fed up to the back teeth with being pushed around in the good cause that has brought everyone out in their thermal underwear again. But still she went. Couldn’t miss it really. Big day out, lots of women there, sense of obligation, not wanting to be left out. All sorts of things.”

“And how was it different from the first time?”

Ada was really quite good at this cross-examining business.

“In many ways, not at all. Same thousands of women milling around, looking pretty similar, singing the same song. Same mud, same camera crews, same tail-back of coaches with posters in the windows jamming the Basingstoke road. More police helicopters, more barbed wire, more soldiers and watchtowers and floodlights and guns in evidence. More crackle of walkie-talkies filling up every bit of the airwaves, even the ones the Janets were trying to sing in. But a lot of the same looks on their faces. Untroubled.”

“And?”

“Like I said, our particular Janet was wandering around feeling rather jaded, and wondering why they all thought the nastiness would go away because they’d turned out in such numbers to be nice all round it, when they’d done the same thing last year and not changed it for the better.”

Ada tutted gently to herself. Not sure how to interpret the noise, I carried on. “And, of course, Janet felt guilty for being so cynical and making comparisons with the way she always got taken to midnight mass when she went home for Christmas, a pleasant and colourful, but fairly pointless annual ritual.”’

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