“I only knew my great-grandmother through the stories of my father, whom she cared about a lot when he was a child. And I’ve never forgotten this: that she had kept all her life on her mantelpiece a framed engraving of Victor Hugo’s state funeral.
In this very conservative region, dominated by the Church and the castles, it is quite a symbol. Through his love for a people whose suffering he pitied and judged their anger legitimate, Victor Hugo, who had returned from exile in 1870, was the icon of the “people from below”, for whom the Republic was a great promise of change.
To educate is to give the means to build oneself
My great-grandmother and her family do not ask for “social welfare”, but they think that this new regime will allow them to escape precariousness, illegitimacy, silence. In her thirst for justice and dignity, she has confidence in progress, in education, the way to emancipation, if not for herself but for her descendants. She, who had little schooling, ran the sales to offer “beautiful books” to her grandson. The promise was relayed by his daughter and his grandson who became teachers.
But today ? I am very concerned to see that the beautiful word instruction has practically disappeared. Is he scary? To educate is to equip, it is to give to any child, and even more when he comes from an underprivileged family, the means to build himself and to build his life in the city. How is it that the question of education is no longer at the center of political debates?
Despite a difficult life, my grandmother never considered herself unhappy. Courageous, never complaining, she was outspoken, and she passed on to me a beautiful and strong idea of popular dignity: wanting to be recognized for what we are. In this, she is close to certain figures of the yellow vests but with this difference which says a lot about the state of the republic: the confidence of modest people in the future, in progress, in education, has lost. I deplore it and I call for a social, economic and political regime that would revive the former hopes of my ancestor Laurence.