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Questions our great grandchildren asked me
and how I answered them
How much did you know and what was it like to live with that knowledge?
I knew about a lot of it because I tried to find out but of all the things that I found out I couldn’t tell what was likely or unlikely, very likely or very unlikely, totally improbable or certainly probable. And in my search for a person to share information with, I didn’t know how much it was safe to say, or how far to or if I would be tipping that person right over, a cliff’s edges.
It was especially hard talking to young people. Every sinew in my body tensed against the likelihood that I would be destroying their belief in their futures. Or patronising them by assuming they didn’t already know. Didn’t already know far more than me.
When I tracked down the people who were thinking and reading like me, our conversations would flip between grief and joy. Unspeakable grief for the planet in the averted eye and the faltering mouth. And extraordinary joy that being part of nature we too could say no, enough. No more slaving so that a blasted few could clothe themselves in riches they could never in five lifetimes have time to wear. So our tears would well and we’d catch ourselves and laugh – it was a gallowing laugh though.
Some of us survived so what did you do and how did you get started?
I felt I knew what needed to be done to get started at least. I would follow the path laid down by the women in Northern Ireland whose actions are widely believed to have prevented civil war and who held together the threads of webs over twenty -five years endlessly and daily repairing them even as bombs dropped and betrayals tore them apart.
I learned from reading about nature’s systems for resilience and regeneration and by looking at the webs and fabrics woven and spun by the women in Northern Ireland – start by deciding where your roots need to be – and they chose to join the roots already put down among the poor. Not hard to find.
Where did you find the strength to continue working despite the obstacles?
Inspired by the pragmatism of the women who were poor and their insistence on showing and extending to each other’s sides, other more women came to help and created centres where groups could come together and explore exactly the question – what do we need to do to help? Could we make a world unlike anything like now? That doesn’t hold within it the threat of murder or silence and whose only currency is life?
And the groups came to centres and the centres linked to each other and crossed divides intentionally knowing divides conquer. And threads were woven between centres and groups and networks grew and linked and connected everywhere, weaving an ecosystem, being of nature and as nature does. And eventually at last everyone decided it was time to talk of peace. And for once the women were at the table because by now it was obvious to the majority that those women were needed. And they said right. Right now we need a plan.
We looked ahead to the lives of our great grandchildren and asked ourselves: what would they ask us and how would we answer? And darlings, you were always there amongst us when we spoke.
— Judy Seymour, September 2023 - written in response to an activity suggested by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone in their book ‘Active Hope: how to face the mess we’re in with unexpected resilience and creative power’
WE WILL BEAR WITNESS to this moment in history. This media project features stories from earth's citizens, recording climate destruction, devastation, resilience and hope. Tell your story.
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