Whenever you dislike something it is always better not to proclaim a war against it but to find a way to promote, support or create the opposite of it. What you resist persists, so doing something PRO instead of something against, gives you a chance to get what you actually want.
This is how I see the thing that we did with LT stripes – it was not a resistance but more like a „PRO“ statement (check out the first part of the article).
Before I tell you what happened during this PRO LT action, I’ll give you a little quiz. Have fun with it and challenge yourself to see how well you know your (this) folk.
Who do you think were the most eager to take an LT stripe?
- Taxi drivers
- People with small kids
- Aggressively looking people
- Rich looking people
- People at Hanza Kaunas fair
Answers are in the text below but try your insights, guess and see if you were right.
We were approaching people with phrases like:
- „We would like to decorate your car…“;
- „in this way we want to promote civic engagement…“;
- „We would like to give you this LT stripe as a gift…“
Our (mine and Dainius’) first encounter was with people who looked kind of aggressive: they wore sport costumes, were smoking, being loud, spiting – regular Kaunas stuff . Normally I would go around them and keep away if possible but this time I had to force myself to approach them.
As we did that, our prejudice hit us straight into our patriotic and virtuous faces. All these people took a stripe willingly, with a smile and a thank you. It seemed like by getting a stripe (a free gift and a positive symbol of civic engagement) from a decent looking fellows, they felt valuable, respected and not excluded. There was even one person who said something like: „you can hang anything on my car as long as it is not a Georgian stripe“.
Some of them asked if they had to give us money, as if not trusting that something good can be for free. They also might have considered us to be like Roma people who sell roses by putting a flower in your hand first and then asking you to pay for it.
One of those persons who we considered to be „aggressive“ made me smile with amazement.
We spotted this guy (who was aprox. 35 years old), next to Maxima at Kęstučio st. His car’s trunk was open and it seemed that he was trying to put a bicycle inside. As Dainius approached him, his first question was, if he had to pay for this. His face was all serious and suspicious but after a short conversation he seemed to relax. He even smiled and laughed and in my eyes he suddenly „transformed“ into a positive and lighthearted person. Finally, as he was searching for his lighter, Dainius offered to light his cigarette (we used lighters that day to burn off the ends of the stripes). Full service!
Taxi drivers were the funniest. I have to admit – they are a very special category. The not so sophisticated word for them would be – „weird“ but I would choose to call these people „raw“. Why? It’s because they were free to express their emotions in a very unique way. Their reactions did not follow the „rule“ (or behavior pattern) to be nice when you don’t want to, or suppress your good emotions when you are overjoyed. If they disliked the idea to hang an LT stripe they showed that in a very obvious and also sincere way with no hatred towards us. If they liked our idea, they showed that loud and clear.
After hearing my question one of them leaned towards me as if he didn’t hear well, so I repeated my proposal. Then he said: „I heard what you said, you can hang the stripe [on my neck] now“.
The other driver jumped out of his car, tied the stripe on the antenna and asked for more stripes – for his brother’s car. Again – loudly, emotionally, raw
People with small kids and „rich looking“ people seemed not to have time or not wanting to be involved in something suspicious. I have to admit that maybe some people were caught doing something, being busy. So they might have felt their personal boundaries were violated. People with kids were packing their things and kids into or out of the car so they had to give additional energy to our proposal which is not important in comparison to what a kid is up to.
Rich looking people (that is an absolutely subjective judgement) were expressing confidence, strength and gave us this „get off me“ vibe. So we did.
People at Hanza fair were the most eager to accept the stripes. Doesn’t matter if they looked rich, had children, seemed aggressive or drove a taxi – they were all in a good mood. These were relaxed and smiley people who felt we were adding something good to an already good day that they were having.
Consciously or subconsciously most of them seemed to support the idea and that is comforting.
In the end it felt nice to notice cars with LT stripes that day, although we did not see them later. Still if there were at least some people who felt the intention, there’s hope that maybe something good will ripple out. Some day