I can write my little blog and speak out on matters that mean something to me because many people have fought for freedom of speech, thought and action.
From the relative peace of the remote Scottish Highlands I would like to add my small voice to those who continue to speak out against those who try to stifle thoughts and words. My grandmother worked hard with other like minded girls to achieve voting rights for women and I have her and my mother to thank for encouraging me to be open-minded, yet ready, always, to ask questions. They both felt strongly that the pen and brush were/are as powerful as any scientific, military or religious movement and that we should all, whenever and wherever possible, be ready to use them. Of course, cartoonists and satirists of Charlie Hebdo fame are brave and skilled, and while most of us doodle away on paper scraps, we perhaps do not feel able to express our innermost outrages or desires via publication, print and periodical. And yet, in Paris and other cities across the world, ‘ordinary’ folk were brave enough to write or say “Je suis Charlie” and to meet together in outrage at the killings. Je vous salut.
In Paris my little grandson, 8 month old William Frank (a very big name for a small person), is beginning a life which will see enormous changes, probably more than we have experienced in the last century, and many will be driven by advances in technology or by global environmental transformation. Science fiction predicting futures almost unimaginable are set to become reality as nano-scale circuitry and bio-design revolutionise interfaces between human and machine; genetic engineering has the potential to ‘enhance’ the human body (and the mind?). And all the while, our climate and environment is tipping towards unimaginable transformation which will need all of these technologies and innovations in order for societies to cope, adapt and survive.
And yet, amidst all this, is the scrap of paper, the pen and pencil, and the ability of an individual to speak out on freedom and on potenial futures. I, for one, will be encouraging young William to use his crayons wisely but with gusto and with all his heart.