When we can process how we feel,
we can think more clearly about how to act.
The new era was born in an emergency when I was going on 50 and had already lived a life of campaigning and hopefulness that had gone, well, nowhere. Whereas my new tribe was younger and this was their first experience of hope for real, fundamental social change. I guess that gave my role as supporter and reassurance provider an extra dimension, though we had felt we were in safe hands throughout the build up to this moment, and the latest news reports had shown no hint of a problem.
My sense of exultation at the new era’s successful arrival was very quickly punctured.
Within a very short time the scientists reported that alarming signs were apparent and quickly diagnosed an existential situation.
This was apparently a known phenomenon, and it was clearly life threatening. I was devastated and frightened. I felt I had to put on as brave a face as possible for the sake of my loved ones, and did my best to believe the leaders, who reassured us that the situation was routinely treatable, though ‘emergency’ action was required. Our newly founded ideas and values were to be whisked off immediately to be scrutinized in an institution far away. We were not allowed to be part of the process but nonetheless I went under my own steam.
In the immediate period after the initial shock, we received valuable support and comfort from two sources. Our knowledgeable friend happened to be in the same place birthing her own campaign, and she came along and explained in very simple matter-of-fact terms what the problem was and how it could be remedied.
Some good friends came in to see us and that helped. As they were leaving I accompanied them a little way. As soon as we were outside the fear and anguish for all the children and future generations, which I had been holding at bay, overcame me and the tears flowed. The friend – they had children of their own – said something that surprised me but also gave me strength. He said “You know, kids are amazingly tough”.
The emergency measures were carried out straight away and the leaders assured us that they were committed to them going well. I was filled with a huge sense of relief and of gratitude and admiration for all those other people trying to help. This was tempered only by my awareness of the trauma me and others were experiencing, not just at the drama of it all but at being isolated at such a crucial time, unable to face what we have done to the world.