Part of a Whole

My name is Nicolas Steenhout.
I speak, train, and consult about inclusion, accessibility and disability.

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Is It Any Wonder I’m An Advocate At Heart?

I was cooking dinner, listening to music, and singing along to it. As I was singing, I had a bit of an epiphany! I was singing "Le Drapeau Rouge", a song I heard regularly as a young kid. Perhaps it is not so surprising I have a bit of a revolutionary spirit…

Right, so here I am, listening to Marc Ogeret (link in French) sing "Le Drapeau Rouge" (Don’t confuse this with "The Red Flag", a song on a similar theme written by an Irishman in the late 1800’s!), and other revolutionary songs. If you aren’t familiar with it, Le Drapeau Rouge is a song that dates back to the mid 1800’s, and was particularly popular during the Commune de Paris. A symbol of the worker’s movement, it evokes the spilled blood of angry workers.

The chorus is a bit like this:

Le voilà !, Le voilà ! Regardez !
Il flotte et fièrement il bouge,
Ses longs plis au combat préparés,
Osez, osez le défier !
Notre superbe drapeau rouge !
Rouge du sang de l’ouvrier !

And my poor translation:

"There it is! There it is! Look!
It floats and proudly moves,
Its long folds prepared during combat,
Dare, dare defy it!
Our superb red flag!
Red from the workers’ blood!"

Anyway, I was singing enthusiastically. One of dogs didn’t like it and barked at me, but that’s not germane to this topic! :) And it occured to me that having been raised by a father who considers himself an anarchist, listening to these songs, it’s no real wonder that I have such a deep sense of fairness and equality. Songs such as Le Drapeau Rouge, L’Internationale, La Carmagnole, Les Canuts, Le Chant des Ouvriers, and so many more really formed, and forged my thinking on human rights.

L’Internationale says:

L’Egalité veut d’autres lois.
Pas de droits sans devoirs, dit-elle :
Egaux, pas de devoir sans droits !

(Equality needs other laws.
No rights without responsibilities, she says:
Equal, no responsibilities without rights!)

And there you have it! At the risk of being labelled a "commie", which I don’t think I am, I certainly will continue to fight against prejudice, petty mindedness, bigots, discrimination, and injustice!