This is our truth, tell us yours
We share so many experiences with our mothers, starting with a birth we have no choice over, and continuing through the dependent years.
The whole idea of Mothering Sunday is to return to the place where we were brought up and educated, where we can meetup with our mothers and say thank you.
There comes a time when there is no going back, when the links have been broken, but for me, the places where I grew to love my mother no longer exist either. Picket lines and demonstrations, collecting for striking miners and print workers…
One of the persistent debates of those days was the one about how far you could go in debate. I grew up in a place where scab was the cruellest, harshest thing you could say. Some people said it with a bitter vehemence that implied that the only thing preventing them punching the object of their hatred was a pressing engagement elsewhere. Others, like my mother, could imbue the word with a pity that understood the length of time it would take scabs to repent of their sin and achieve absolution, and the weakness that made scabs abandon their peers and neighbours.
Watching her, in those times, when others my age or not much older were being arrested for their anger, and their outbursts, was a time of profound learning and love.
The thought comes to mind today because of the way in which the miners strike was policed, and the way in which debate is being policed on the internet. I had good advice, and good examples to follow, and was channeled into spending my time loading vans with supplies and making up leaflets, not standing at the side of the road wrapped up in my anger.
On the internet now the debate around tone and manner of debate is alive and well, and high profile cases like Caroline Criado Perez and Stella Creasey have, as some predicted, led police to start to visit those who may have given offence to others and remind them of the much expanded law of harassment. In thesame way that some scabs during the miners strike reported every remark to them, irrespective of its tone or manner, the debate is at risk of being framed and controlled by those who assert that they are victims as soon as someone disagrees with them.
On Mothering Sunday, I know which side of the debate my mother would have stood, and the way in which she would have treated the policing of the debate as a challenge to find new ways to enter the fray.