Democracy starts with family

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Late nights and early morning are often a recipe for disaster in a household. We had a good run of this pre-General Election 2020 and it suited our family just fine!

Our new year brought about a new challenge. We spent hours and hours in the car and were often very late returning home in the evenings. Myself and my husband, Ray, took turns every evening to drive to the next county in an effort to get a pro-life man elected to Dáil Eireann.

It wasn’t all hard work. In fact, most of the time it was quite enjoyable and we involved our children in this task whenever we could. The older children leafletted huge areas with either myself or Ray and on other evenings one of us would spend some hours canvassing while the other went out in the van with the kids to put up election posters.

Other mothers leafletted with their babies in the buggies in the mornings. Politics became a hot topic in our house and we used this opportunity to educate our children on how the country is governed and how democracy works. They were fascinated. Their ‘News of the Day’ in their copybooks were filled with stories of canvassing, postering, leafleting and debates. We had discussions on health, housing and homelessness, education, transport, farming, rural affairs and how money is spent and wasted. We explained leftwing and conservative politics. We watched candidates debates and read their leaflets. We rated them then and decided if they would be good politicians or bad ones. It usually came down, to “Do they like us Catholics?” and “Are they prolife”. That’s how we determined whether they were ‘good guys or bad guys’. I would tell them the candidates plans if they get elected and would give them a quick run-down of their political past and usually they would come to their own conclusions.

We prayed for our candidate at our rosary every night and when eventually it came to voting day our six and eight year olds thought it would be a good idea to send their guardian angels to meet all the other guardian angels to “tell their humans to vote for our guy”. Our 4-year-old thought it better to hold onto his guardian angel because he’s “always falling over”. What a clever little boy!

Our children couldn’t contain their excitement when we got to the polling station. Over the three weeks we had big discussions over who would get our preferences. We brought them all to the polling booth with us. They recognised all of the names and faces on our ballot sheet and who the good guys were and who the bad guys were. After a long three weeks of campaigning we made the journey home to await the results. We prayed the Rosary in the car on our way home that ‘our guy’ would get enough votes to be elected.

Children need to understand the privileges and responsibilities that come with democracy so they are ready to become participants in the political process as adults. Children are aware of issues of justice and fairness.

We want our children to know that we care about the environment we live in. We are a family and the family is the basis of society. If we want to defend our family values, we need to work to preserve it. They need to know if we want change we must help those trying to bring it about. Plenty of the bad guys were elected unfortunately. Many of the good guys weren’t. But despite our tiny budget and small campaign team ‘our guy’ was elected. We prayed with our children in thanksgiving for this. We were so happy. The result was late coming in, so we celebrated with cake for breakfast the following morning.

It was very important to us that our children would see us actively trying to shape the country for the good of the family. They helped. It will always be an uphill battle for us. We are living in an anti-Catholic, anti-family, and anti-God country. But we have each other. Family is the most important thing so we must try preserve it. We must be an example to our children. One day it will be their turn to teach this lesson to their children. We know we are different to many other families in Ireland today. Our children know they are different and are quite happy to be so.

We are their parents. We need to guide them on the right path and point them in the right direction and with the help of God they will bloom where they are planted. They are with us for such a short time. Teach them the ways of the world before someone else does. ‘Hate what the world seeks, and seek what it avoids’ – St. Ignatious of Loyola