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December 6, 2017

The Reason We Persist

December 6 is a weighty day in Canada as we remember the 14 women murdered in Montreal at Ecole Polytechnique in 1989, and women who are victims of violence (male violence) across this country and beyond, including more than a thousand missing and murdered Indigenous women. And every year it hits me harder and harder, the realization at how little women and their work and their voices and their bodies are valued. When I was a university student I used to sing in a choir and every year on December 6 we’d participate in a memorial for the murdered women, and while it moved me and broke my heart, the violence and rage that was the impetus for the massacre seemed far away then in time and place. I thought Montreal in 1989 was an outlier, that we’d got beyond it. But in the last few years, I’ve felt it closer and closer, more and more personally. Every December 6 for the last few years it’s occurred to me that I’ve realized an even deeper understanding of how much our society hates women than I’d had the year before. We are the same society in which a Canadian MP stood in the House of Parliament in 1982 to speak about domestic violence and her colleagues responded by laughing.

Two posts by friends today got me thinking though, one writing about the complicatedness of her family’s celebration of Saint Nicholas Day on December 6, along with commemorating what happened in 1989. Another noting that it was her son’s birthday, a strange mix of feelings and emotions which underlines her intent to raise her boy to be a good man. And it’s these stories that make me feel better, actually, the way that memory and mourning and activism are built around the joyful and hopeful corners of our lives. All of it is the world and life itself, and no part is less worthy than any other for inclusion in the precious hours of our day. These joyful hopeful corners are why activism and politics mean anything, actually. They’re the reason we persist in hoping for and working for change.

One thought on “The Reason We Persist”

  1. theresa says:

    I don’t think anyone is laughing today. I think of those beautiful young women with lives ahead of them and how desperately sad it is to remember the reports of gunshot, of death. How it continues, with the vulgar stupidity, the utter stupidity of Trump, his family, those who defend him, cover for him, allow that ugly situation to go on, as though it’s normal. Life, our lives and families and communities, so precious and complicated. I celebrate women, those 14 young women, and the good men on earth, and hope that we can collectively take back the dignity that those hideous guys have (momentarily) taken control of.

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