It was quiet in my growing up house. We closed the front door with silent deliberation and spoke to one another in soft tones. My parents didn’t raise their voices, either in anger or delight. We kept our feelings of fear, grief, sadness, even joy, corseted close, as if their release would tip the earth from her axis. Tears happened in muffled sobs in the corner of a bedroom. There was no room for anger.
Mary Robinson, the first female President of Ireland and Maeve Higgins, an Irish comic based in New York City have a brand-new podcast called Mothers of Invention (it was Mary’s idea, even though she didn’t know what a podcast was. Can I call her “Mary”? Somehow it doesn’t seem right…okay fine–“President Robinson”). They are talking to amazing women all over the world who are driving solutions for climate change.
A friend of mine came up to me after one of the shows: “I had no idea Sarah struggled so much. She’s always so full of life, so animated,” she said. “I’ve been going through a hard time, but I don’t talk about it. I can’t talk about it. But when Sarah so boldly told her truth, something opened up for me. Tell her thank you,” she said. She was crying.
My friend Ken Cloke wrote the piece below about the shifting sands between North and South Korea. But the piece is so much bigger. His question, “how far apart are people in conflict?” unravels my stuck thinking.
It was 1985, I was thirty-five, a new volunteer with RESULTS, an advocacy organization committed to ending hunger and poverty. I jumped in feet first, determined to make a difference, though I knew nothing about poverty, Congress or how a bill was passed. Something I couldn’t name was driving me to be a change agent in the world.