As part of our last afternoon in London, we took the kids to Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park. It was a beautiful sunny day, and Londoners and tourists alike were sunbathing out on the big grassy areas while all manner of opinions were shouted from soap boxes and step ladders and folding chairs. All the "isms" were covered: socialism, atheism, Catholicism, Marxism, relativism, etc.

One man had a sign declaiming U.S. imperialism and the conspiracy of the United nations, though I never really got the gist of what exactly the UN was conspiring about.
A Marxist, red flag draped behind his head, was screaming about the "bio-psychological nature of man", but I'm fairly certain even he didn't fully understand what he meant by the phrase.

Another gentleman proclaimed himself an "adamant heckler" and asked his audience to suggest topics for discussion. He wasn't so much passionate about a subject as he was passionate about the attention. In fact, when asked about his opinions on the hot button topics of our day--abortion, homosexuality, etc.--he repeatedly adopted a "to each his own" stance, which, while possibly admirable, did not a fierce argument make. He was a bit like the Unitarian of the speakers: you are welcome to disagree with me, but let's hang out and disagree together.

A couple of the kids got involved. One girl was told she was one of the most disgusting human beings that particular speaker had ever met. Another of our group climbed a pedestal herself and proceeded to speak about positive energy and its ability to influence people and decisions.

The whole experience was amusing, but I can't say that I was overly impressed with any of the discussions. Maybe it was an off day on the corner,maybe it was the fact that my allergies were acting up under the shady trees and my sinuses were killing me, or maybe I have reached my saturation point for this trip. A girl can only absorb so much history and philosophy and art in a 2 week period, and then she just starts to crave reruns of Gilmore Girls and trips to Target. My cultural experiences require a dash of pop in them to offset the intellectualism and keep me from getting too broody.

I am, after all, a Libra; balance is key.