UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

Riled up

We all get angry. Let’s use it for good.

By Carolyn Pogue

The other night I gave a rant; couldn’t help it. Why are Liberian women brave and Canadian women not? Did I shout? I hope not. The women with me listened, waited a few moments and then carried on with the meeting. We were talking about poverty.

I have tried all my life to be a calm, reasonable person. In Grade 4 I deliberately sought out the quietest bookworm in the school and asked if I could be with her at recess. We each carefully chose a book and when the bell rang, retired to a small grove of trees and sat reading. It was lovely. An oasis of green quiet. We were away from the rest of the rabble as they ran around, got dirty, played, fought, yelled. I know they were doing that because after about five minutes, I was sneaking peeks to see if I was missing anything. My friendship with the bookworm lasted, but I visited the quiet grove less and less frequently. It seemed to set a pattern.

Half a century later, I still seek quiet places and people. I’ve created a quiet space in my various homes, sometimes just a simple corner. I’m drawn there again and again to be still. But then, like I did at age 10, I peek through the leaves, see what’s going on and join the fray. These days what I keep seeing are children in poverty.

It’s so obviously an emergency that children suffer needlessly. It’s so obviously a crime to have Canadian children undernourished, poorly housed (or not housed), attending terrible schools. The United Nations has again raised a red flag. We need to care for our children better.

I wish every book club in the world would read Leymah Gbowee’s book Mighty Be Our Powers (and watch the video, Pray the Devil Back to Hell). Gbowee’s story can help bring us to our senses.

The women of Liberia brought an end to the dreadful war there in 2003. They began when one Christian and one Muslim woman teamed up and shouted, “Enough!” The women held protests, seemingly to no avail, but like the persistent widow in the story Jesus told, they wouldn’t go away. When finally the warriors were forced to the peace table, the women surrounded the building, sat and prayed. When the men tried to leave the building, claiming that the peace talks had broken down, the women rushed them and pushed them back in. When the police tried to arrest Gbowee, she threatened to rip off her dress, to shame them.

For their grand finale, the women (and men) of Liberia elected Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as their president in 2005, the first female leader of an African nation. She and Gbowee were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.

Some say it seems there is a war against the poor in our country. Certainly poverty breeds despair, contributes to poor health, creates family stresses, and makes children and youth vulnerable to gangs, academic failure and more.

At the meeting of the Alberta and Northwest Conference this past weekend, United Church women proposed that the whole church make ending child poverty in Canada a priority. I hope this is taken seriously at the General Council meeting in Ottawa this summer. And I hope everyone will read Leymah Gbowee’s book in their own little quiet place, then come out roaring like angry bears to declare that poverty is not only a disgrace but an emergency.


Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image

Editorials

David Wilson%

Observations

by David Wilson

If statues could talk

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Stolen Mother

by Observer Staff

The daughter and adoptive mother of one of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women share their story

Promotional Image

Society

July 2017

From far and wide

by Various Writers

Meet 11 immigrants who are putting down new roots

World

June 2017

A suitcase for Cuba

by Christopher Levan

You’ll find more than giveaway toiletries and hand-me-downs in the writer's luggage. Each carefully chosen gift offers a glimpse into the lives of Cubans today.

Justice

June 2017

Undocumented

by Kristy Woudstra

Up to half a million people are living in Canada without official status. The ‘sanctuary city’ movement is growing, but the fear of deportation persists.

World

June 2017

Resisting genocide

by Sally Armstrong

In August 2014, ISIS attacked Iraq’s Yazidis, slaughtering thousands and forcing women and girls into sexual slavery. Today, the survivors are fighting for their ancient way of life.

Society

April 2017

Dear Grandkids

by Various Writers

Six acclaimed Canadian authors write letters from the heart

Society

March 2017

Called to resist

by Paul Wilson

Liberal Christians in the United States test their faith against a demagogue

Promotional Image