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Will Green

One fears for the future of Esperanto in Britain.

We speak of La Movado, The Movement, but NOTHING IS MOVING, except mere drifting. No direction. No direction. No directive. No-one in charge. No-one decides what to do or where to go.

More than 90 years ago the pioneers in Britain were few — a mere half dozen or so. But a half dozen with vision, who looked at the future (in which you are living now) and worked with almost no money, no literature, no books, no magazines, no premises, no teachers, no clubs and groups. Just faith. They believed in something. Don't we? Don't you?

Those foresighted pioneers didn't say 'someone should do something'. They did it. They established a movement on faith alone. They gave us what we have now. You owe everything in the life of Esperanto in Britain today. Just about half a dozen people! Their movement grew and grew to have several thousand members.

What has happened since then? What are we leaving to posterity? Nationally, we now talk only of retrenchment, preparing to sell the prestigious family mansion (bought with the money and efforts of our predecessors) to retreat to a rabbit hutch in the provinces. This HQ does not belong to us. It is still theirs, even though they are dead. They let us have it TO BE USED, then to pass on to the next generation.

Let's think of money: They had pence where we have bank balances and investments. What do we do with money received from large legacies? We either give it away to someone else who makes it work for them; or we fritter it away, waiting for something to happen. Why do we not invest it in our own future? We are told that the money from the sale will be used 'to push Esperanto'. How? Why have we not been doing that in the past?

Let's talk about our 'activity'. (Is that the right word?) Apart from two or three bright sparkles, what do clubs and groups achieve? We meet, we drink tea, murmur some indistinct and often indifferent Esperanto, then go home. What do big clubs such as the world famous London Club do except meet? What does your group do OUTSIDE the meetings to tell the world that Esperanto exists?

Esperanto was invented to make the world a better place. I will quote from a letter sent to me by a very serious supporter of the language, who will not join 'the movement':

'… there are poor and hungry children in Africa and South America who would be neither poor nor so hungry if the world economic situation were in better order, and given an international auxiliary language the world economic situation would actually be in sufficiently better order to reduce some of the poverty and misery that exists. From that I am able in my bitterness to reason that the attitudes of the typical self-satisfied Esperantist, who avoids all campaigning, who thinks that the great problem and its great solution needs no more attention than the bus fare to the London Club one night a week for a cup of tea, is contributing to the continuing poverty and misery.'

Why meet at all? Surely every meeting should have a purpose — should have a result — should push Esperanto a little further. We should go home from each meeting knowing that progress has been made. A decision taken. A plan prepared. A job done and another job to be done. (Indeed you'll find that more satisfying.)

But who actually knows that your group exists? EAB itself is almost a Secret Society. We promulgate the device 'Non-members keep out'. Unadvertised. Introverted. Membership of The Association should be regarded as a something to be aspired to.

We are betraying those who have gone before us. We thankless wretches are abandoning the ideals and the practical aims; to wallow in indolent sloth. And we are wasting the talents and lives of the wonderful few who are now still giving so much of their lives to try and keep our drooping flag more than halfway up the mast. We smile indulgently at the name Zamenhof, and know nothing of our founders.

It is likely that the Millennium will be celebrated world-wide in ENGLISH, to our everlasting shame.

If Esperanto sinks out of sight, hidden in the cellars of our clubs and associations, and finally disappears, we shall have deserved it. But there is still time, if we do something NOW.

What will YOU do now?

Replies from Bill Thorne and Norah Brown.

Ĉi tiu artikolo aperis en La Brita Esperantisto de marto-aprilo 1999.

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