I suppose this is old news really. But I can’t shift my sense that – apart from being profoundly annoyed at what happened – I’m also being put into a false moral position.
Let me explain.
Last week-end’s Oxford and Cambridge Boat race was building up to be one of the most closely-fought in years.
It was neck-and-neck at one of the key decision points of the course.
Suddenly a swimmer was spotted in amongst the oars and the race was halted.
At the re-start an Oxford blade snapped – and that was that.
Yes, I am an Oxford supporter and yes, I really enjoy watching the race.
I love it when Oxford win, as they looked on the verge of doing.
But that’s not the point.
My concern is about the stance taken by Mr Oldfield, the lone protester.
He claimed – and has been claiming for some time through numerous tweets – that he is using any means possible to highlight the injustices of elitism.
So, leave aside for the moment the upheaval and disappointment caused to thousands and thousands of people who – rightly or wrongly – enjoy the event.
Leave aside the damage done to careers and lives by the ruined race.
Leave aside the real possibility that Mr Oldfield might well have been killed by his actions.
Leave aside...I’m sure you can add to the list.
Set against all that, I’m not sure that this was a justifiable ‘means’ of protest.
I too object very much to elitism but I don’t like someone forcing me to agree with his protest.
I don’t like having my choice as to what I watch made for me.
Nor that I am, by association, elitist.
One man imposing his beliefs against the wishes of many? Seems pretty selfish to me.
Or is this – appropriately for Easter – not much different from what Jesus was doing?
Jesus taught in public places. Controversially but, the authorities admitted, quite legally and within standard guidelines for rabbis.
Jesus said who he was and what he was teaching was for the benefit of everyone.
Not everyone bought into his claims and methods but there was nothing actually wrong with any of it.
One group of opponents said: “We know that you are a good man.”
Another agreed: “You teach according to the scriptures.”
Another had to admit that Jesus’ healing people was a good thing – even on days when one was meant to rest.
Even the Roman governor pointed out he couldn’t find any reason to condemn Jesus.
In fact, Jesus hardly ever went outside the system.
When he did – when he threw a crowd of street traders out of the Temple – people had to admit that they shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
It doesn’t seem as though Jesus interrupted events people had planned.
He didn’t break any laws. He didn’t object to people enjoying their holidays.
He just told the truth.
Nigel O’Dwyer lives and works in Worthing