The world around us hardly knows we exist. But whose fault is that? Our own, of course. We ourselves are at fault if friends and colleagues don't know about Esperanto. If we don't tell them, who else is likely to?
Clearly, we must tell the world. You and I, not only people. The others don't know us – or may have only wrong ideas.
We must advertise our cause widely… but please take away that little mocking grin; I don't mean great hoardings or full-page ads in the national press, nor time on commercial radio and TV. I mean, we must tell the world in all those subtle, and not so subtle, ways available to us free or cheaply.
We can't rely on a tiny green star half hidden on our lapel. That's merely a means of recognising each other as members of a sort of secret society… if we wear them at all. When did you ever meet one by chance? I did once, several years ago. Even so, we usually wear them only at Esperanto gatherings.
How often do you read a leaflet handed to you in the street? Rarely, though sometimes, but only partly. Or a leaflet left in a train? Rarely, perhaps more frequently. So if a leaflet is to be useful it must contain very few words, big and clear. Perhaps simply: 'Esperanto is the International Language'. No more, except perhaps: 'Write to Esperanto, London W11'
And on T-shirts. How often do you, can you, read them? Well, if there is only a single word, you might. Just the name ESPERANTO. No rubbish such as 'Bridge to the European Community'; 'Opens the door to the world'! That can come later, much later… if at all.
We are at that stage, and in that state, where that single word ESPERANTO must be noised around. Explanation of when and where possible should be available if required.
How many Esperantist motorists have the Esperanto label in their rear screen? These are free from EAB. (Oh, no. They do not obliterate the view nor spoil the heater, etc.)
How many of us name our homes 'Esperanto House'? And put that on headed note paper? And as part of our address in the telephone book? Or on those useful sticky address labels?
Do members still put the Brita Esperantisto into a drawer, or perhaps into the recycling bin, without taking out those extremely valuable middle pages and sending them to a local paper, or an MEP, or an educator? Do we use the phone-in radio and TV programmes enough?
When you buy food or articles with instructions on the packet in several foreign languages, offer to supply the firm with an Esperanto translation.
Ask your library to put up a simple A4 leaflet with the word ESPERANTO big, but not more than four words… plus your address at the bottom. Clear and simple every time.
And when you came back from your holiday abroad, did you tell all your friends how you met the local Esperantists? And had a good time with them. (You did meet them, didn't you?)
Why do we continue to behave like a secret society? Don't you want the word Esperanto to be known?
Try those simple things… read an Esperanto magazine in the train. Put a sticky label near your doorbell. Get the local Group to put 100 leaflets through letter boxes (simple text, no propaganda) and 150 will read them. Two replies? Super! Publicity costs little, often nothing. Why not do it more often?