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Standing.

Assuredly to her dismay, Barbara Streisand will not be seeing me in Hyde Park this summer. Crowds are not my thing.

I do however believe in the power of a march. In the '80's you could find me camping at Greenham and protesting at Faslane. My voice is what I have, and that's a start.

So when my fifteen year old daughter asked me à la Greta Thunberg to join her in Parliament Square in February to protest climate change, I agreed.

Did I want to go? No-0. Did I feel it was important to go? Yes. (If I don't stand with her for this, what do I stand for?)

What I was not expecting were my tears. I find crowds overwhelming - looking around to see thousands of life stories swirling around me: "Who is lonely? Who is unheard? Who doesn't know their value?" - but this was different.

I felt like an extra in a surreal Netflix movie. A dystopian drama about a time when climate change became so serious that the children were forced to leave school and protest. The children! Can you imagine?

And here they all were in reality. In their thousands chanting, "OUR future! YOUR choice!" I spent the first twenty minutes crying. I couldn't help it. Children, some as young as six and seven or even younger, with handmade signs:

Here was no multitude of oafishly smoking teenagers looking to bunk off school for a lark. These were angry, committed kids showing up to convict us of the most catastrophic "second hand smoke" imaginable.

It was shaming. I exchanged tearful glances with other parents present. What have we done? Within our children are our grandchildren, our great grandchildren, our great great grandchildren -will they even be here? What are we doing?

After World War 1, the memorial read:

“When you go Home, tell them of us and say,

For your Tomorrow, we gave our Today”.

What of us? What can we say? "We destroyed your Tomorrow, to live our Today"?

There is a timeline. Many of the people who dispute climate change won't be alive when we find out they're wrong. We must unsettle our lives to fight for our kids now. How can we not?

There's a Mothers' March against Climate Change in London on May 12. Will you come?

Or will you go to one in New York? Or LA? Or Sydney? Or DC? Or Glasgow? Or Belfast? Or Birmingham? Will you find out and make your voice heard?

My daughter made a vlog (here) about the second protest we attended last week in London. It was twice the size of the one in February. A global school walk out.

I cannot know the difference my voice will make in the long run. I can, however, make sure of this:

That when my grandkids look up into my daughter's eyes and ask, "What did Grandma do about it, Mum?"

My daughter will be able to say, "Grandma? She came with me!"

jsg/march 2019

©2020 BY IN A MANNER OF SPEAKING