Love and Rage is how Extinction Rebellion sign off some messages and meetings and I think it’s perfect.
But there is more to it than that and it goes beyond Extinction Rebellion in my life. Love, rage, grief, connection, education, action. One leads to another, leads to another and so on.
My journey with XR began with the grief and rage of what is happening to our planet and everything I love about it; humankind and the natural world.
The grief of how quickly it is being destroyed and has been, knowingly, for so long.
The rage at governments, banks, businesses, the media, individuals who put money and convenience above the crisis that is staring us all in the face.
I sought connection and found it in XR. “Grief needs a witness, it is a dialogue. You need empathetic company to work through the grief”. I have found a movement that shares my grief and rage as well as my love for our planet. They are prepared to take action, challenge and make demands of those in positions of power.
Extinction Rebellion offers a huge amount of education and I am learning all the time. However, the education increases the grief and rage which increase my desire for action.
Then come the connections and the love that follows from those. My involvement in XR coincided with lockdown, meaning everything moved online and on to Zoom. As a disabled person this was actually quite convenient. I join the weekly XR Brighton General Meeting and it is a place of great community, determination and support.
It’s invigorating being involved in conversations about actions that are being planned, whether I can take part or not. Anyone who comes to the meetings leaves feeling enthusiastic and supported. Our grief has been witnessed.
Taking part in the Kill The Bill protest march in Brighton April 2021 was an amazing experience of unity and community. A wide variety of groups and individuals getting together to noisily yet peacefully share our rage.
Every therapist I have had has asked me “what do you do with all your anger and frustration [about my personal situation]? I never have an answer because I don’t know what to do with it. But shouting at the top of your voice with a huge crowd of people at your frustration with the system is certainly a good outlet.
I met one of the XR members face to face at the protest. We had only connected virtually before and it was so exciting to meet each other.
The journey of grief, rage, connection, education, action, love. It becomes an intertwined circle.
I have been following the same journey with Gateway Women for the involuntarily childless. We grieve, we rage, we connect, we love, we educate, we take action.
I am educating myself and learning a new language from Jody Day with which to express and understand my grief.
“Pronatalism is ingrained in our society, where people with children are considered more important than those who don’t”. She talks of how politicians promote their family friendly policies rather than people friendly policies as one example.
Realising this has been an undercurrent to my life since my late 20s and continues through films, TV, literature, advertising and so much more brings rage and frustration as well as sadness.
Realising we are an invisible minority in society makes the connection between us even stronger and more and more brave women are leading action in the workplace through their HR departments and inclusion and diversity policies and practice.
I want to educate young people about fertility and continue to make steps towards making this happen.
Most involuntarily childless women start their journey as I did thinking they are alone. In fact one in five women in the UK are involuntarily childless and that is reflected across the developed world. An invisible, yet significant minority.
Disenfranchised grief, living loss, non-death bereavement are words I can use to describe my grief thanks to Jody. A grief which is not recognised or acknowledged by others.
In Gateway Women we witness each other’s grief, allow each other to rage and show each other love.
I rage about a lot of things. The news headlines, the fragmentation of the countries within the UK, Brexit, the Global North and its destructive effect on the Global South, the constant battle that I and many others face to access support and services, the terrible inequalities within our diverse communities, the terrible inequalities across the globe, the lack of forward thinking and global cooperation brought into stark highlight through the pandemic. ‘Greed and capitalism’ as BoJo put it so perfectly. It goes on and on and on and overwhelms me.
I have MS that started and has advanced significantly because of my grief of childlessness. I am permanently single because of how advanced my MS is. I am raging and grieving about that. I am shown a huge amount of love from family and friends because of it.
Perhaps ironically MS is one area in which I am least educated and connected. Maybe that will come next. I need to take action to connect with single, childless women with MS. I don’t really witness my grief within that community.
Love and Rage. Grief, connection, education, action. These are the things that are keeping me going.
All quotes (apologies they are not word for word) from Jody Day in her groundbreaking lecture in March 2021: The disenfranchised grief of involuntary childlessness.
Both Extinction Rebellion and Gateway Women are constantly evolving, listening, learning, changing and developing and my journey is part of a collective journey.
A couple of book recommendations and further thoughts:
The Wall by John Lanchester.
A story about how young people have been left to defend the country which has been destroyed by their parent’s generation. It rings so true as to the mess we have left the next generations.
Interestingly, Jody makes the point that as childless women we can have a wider outlook and be more altruistic in the way we view future generations than those who have their own children and I certainly feel this way about my involvement in XR and the development of fertility education.
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing and its sequel A Beautifully Foolish Endeavour by Hank Green.
I read these during the first lockdown and was struck by the way the books lead to global cooperation as the news in the real world was telling the complete opposite.
The books come under my favourite genre of near future dystopia/sci-fi/fantasy.