My Gran died at 1.20 this morning. At 94 and a half to the day, it wasn’t unexpected. After braking her femur in a fall four months ago it was a protracted winding down process, and how legs and protest walks and mothers and grandmothers all connect and fit into the wider context for me, I’d like to try and explain. And give a small tribute to my lovely gran.
I was eleven in 1981 and Gran took me to a protest against the Springbok Tour in Cathedral Square. I remember the throngs of people gathered together making the Square seem somehow unfamiliar, but I felt safe, with her and with all those others who I took to be showing how much they cared about people on the other side of the world who were treated so badly by their government. I believed we were doing what we could to show that we would not condone such treatment, even if our actions were futile.
But those actions weren’t futile. It took a long time, and many other protests and actions from all over the world, but finally apartheid was dismantled.
Gran and Granddad were involved in the peace and anti-nuclear movements, and through them I learned about the threats we live with in the context of world politics. These threats are constant and constantly changing, and overwhelmingly complex and difficult to affect.
Difficult, but not impossible.
Look at what is happening in Europe with the look-alike trade deals of the Trans Pacific Partnership – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Canada-EU deal called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). By tomorrow morning we should know if CETA has been scuppered, which would be great news and the result of millions of people turning out to countless protests.
This growing, international protest movement shows values of caring and empathy, gentleness and a deep, deep love of others and of our world. Life-affirming values. Values which are often attributed to the feminine, to mothers and grandmothers.
Of course these are not specifically feminine values, they are human values and they are missing from our economic and other fundamental systems governing society. These are the values we need to bring into balance if we are going to address the challenges facing us in the 21st century.
My Gran lived most of her life in the 20th century. It was a century of competition and aggression. On Our Children’s Future Hikoi, Rachel, her children and the rest of us are walking to shift that paradigm to one that gives more credence to the ability of all of us to care about everyone and this beautiful planet we live on.
Here’s to all the wonderful mothers and grandmothers who show us the way.
Thanks Gran. Love you.