“We have no ambitions other than being a flea that bites a politician or a bureaucrat, shouting “Wake up!”, so they will finally hear the silent voice of the people”
Abbé Pierre 1912-2007
To my great ignorance and shame and, despite having studied French for several years, I had never heard of this remarkable man before his death was announced a couple of days ago. Although little known outside France, he consistently topped the country’s popularity charts and came third in a poll to find “le plus grand français de tous les temps” behind former president Charles de Gaulle and scientist Louis Pasteur. He earned great respect as a campaigner for social justice having come to the aid of Jewish refugees during the WWII and founding the homeless charity Emmaus. There were times when he courted controversy, but was not afraid to stand up for what he believed in for the greater good.