The jubilee – 7 generations
Whether you are a royalist or not, the jubilee must have brushed past you at least a little this weekend.
I still have my mug from the silver jubilee, when I was still in primary school and remember how disappointed I was that we were on holiday in Devon for the street party our neighbours talked about for ages after. We did walk up to see a beacon lit over the south coast sea, instead, but I would rather have been stuffing my face with iced gems and twiglets with my friends.
My children each have mugs of the diamond jubilee and platinum mugs are on their way.
And on one hand it doesn’t matter at all. Mugs schmugs. So what?
Another family, not at all like us, and yet like us with all our frailties, hope and sorrow.
I think what matters to me is the the sense of history.
A sense of being part of a long line forward and back in time,
which we all are
but maybe don’t see.
I am the granddaughter of granddaughters and I know some of that history; family tales of travel, wealth, poverty and escape mixed with more quotidian; divorces, betrayals, love and of course death.
I didn’t start to really feel those roots into the past until I had children of my own, perhaps that is the way of things, to finally understand that inheritance isn’t just genetic, but habitual, behavioural and social.
Having kids ties me to their future, as they increasingly step out alone, who will they be, what will they live through that I can’t even imagine? Will they have children? I know many young people who won’t, unable to see a future forward through the climate which is destabilising increasingly.
For me the jubilee is a moment in time to recognise this continuity from having ancestors, to being an ancestor, and wondering what kind of ancestor I will be.
So William’s speech about his grandmother and the world she has seen, the world she is seeing her great-grandchildren growing into, really resonates with me. When we come together around a common cause there is room for optimism; we saw it in the first lockdown and in the surge of people opening their homes to the Ukraine.
A friend I talked with this weekend, felt that it was just too late to make a difference to climate catastrophe.
But it isn’t too late and it is our job to be the ancestors that our children and their children need.
Rebecca Solnet and Thelma Young Lutunatabua have set up the Not Too Late resource to share stories of what people are doing and what we can do to help.
Outrage and Optimism is absolutely my favourite podcast and resource for sharing, with wit and analysis, the developments in the climate space, and there is hope, people are changing, the tide is turning. Listen to the difference Sadiq Khan is making to London air quality and how Wales is leading the world in thinking 7 generations hence in every decision that is made, from road building to housing. There are good people, doing powerful things, they just don’t always get the airspace.
Not all of us will live have the Queen’s longevity, and whilst we might not all have children, we all have younger colleagues and neighbours, friends and god-children who follow in our wake.
‘The utilitarian philosopher John Stuart Mill, who delivered an 1867 inaugural address at the University of St. Andrews and stated: “Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing. He is not a good man who, without a protest, allows wrong to be committed in his name, and with the means which he helps to supply, because he will not trouble himself to use his mind on the subject.”
The biggest thing we can do is talk about what we can change whilst knowing we will not be perfect. I drive, but drive much less than before the pandemic. I recycle and have switched to Octopus for my green electricity. We must not let our contradictions freeze us. I eat avocados, but have cut out meat, I walk to shop as often as I can, and also have flown, but much less than I used to. I am a work in progress. So are we all.
But if we take this weekend, this moment, to imagine the kind of life we want for our children and grandchildren in seventy years time, then that changes starts with us and starts today, it starts with where we are and builds from there, coming together to imagine and make the world we want for our ancestors.
“We cannot create what we can’t imagine.”
― Lucille Clifton
We all need clean air to breathe, soil which is healthy for our food, water which we can drink. Let’s focus on how we are the same and come together as people did this weekend, to make the changes the whole world needs.