“Just as an unbalanced mind can accumulate stresses that can grow and take on a life of their own, so little decisions of our modern life can accumulate to the point where our society finds itself bombing other people for their oil, or supporting dictators who torture whole populations—all so that our unbalanced interests might be served.”
Born Doris Rollins in Laconia, New Hampshire, “Granny D” is best known today for her walk across America in support of campaign finance reform (1999-2000). Her trip, begun shortly before her 89th birthday, lasted 14 months, and covered 3,200 miles.
Doris Haddock’s journey was no mere publicity stunt. She had studied the issue of campaign finance reform so that she could communicate her views to the people who assembled to meet her along the way, including the more than 2,000 who greeted her arrival in Washington, D.C. She spent a year training for the physical challenges she would encounter on the trip, which would wear out four pairs of shoes and included a hundred-mile stretch that she covered on cross-country skis.
Commitment to campaign finance reform is but one facet of an activist career that included working on environmental issues in Alaska (1960) and writing and speaking against war in Iraq (2003). She tells her fellow citizens: “We must not be content to go home and watch television when there is a democracy to run, or to spend all our money on ourselves and our children. Right now, many young people will tell you to ‘get a life’ if you suggest that they get involved in community issues. But that is a life. That is the life of free people in a democracy.”
Her nickname reflects her status as great-grandmother of a large family; it also helps to define the strong, protective love she feels for her country—a love expressed in her statement: “We live in a land where each person’s voice matters. We can all do something. Sometimes, we have to make sacrifices to be heard. But it is still our free land and, my, how we all do love it.”
In her moral toughness and pragmatism, “Granny D” also knows that real love acts responsibly and fights for its object: “We have a duty to look after each other. If we lose control of our government, then we lose our ability to dispense justice and human kindness. Our first priority today, then, is to defeat utterly those forces of greed and corruption that have come between us and our self-governance.”
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