Really good piece and thank you for your kind words. In my defence I didn't criticise emotion I just suggested that Neil's letter had more emotion than insight. It was passionate and angry, which is fine, but seemed (to me) to allow that to obscure the need to fight off the immediate threat from Balls' plans.My response to that comment was so long, that I thought I'd better blog it as a separate post:
Perhaps on a separate note I think we do have a functioning democracy which we should treasure and appreciate especially as so many others are subject to oppression and lack what we should hold dear. Of course it's not perfect but non-participation starves our democracy of what it most needs which is more good, honest people who will ensure that we remain a humane and decent society that can respect minorities including home educators.
Graham, I realise you weren't directly criticising emotions, the mentioning of them just triggered something in me. "Being emotional" has been used against home educators by e.g. Badman, Baroness Deech, Coaker, and others.
Good that you mention passion. That's what I recognise in you. Passion is what drives me and it's the reason why a lot of home educators can do what they do, in spite of all attempts to stop us.
Passion and good old fashioned raw anger are a healthy breeding ground for creativity, for constructive development. I recognise the passion with which you want to make sure Balls et al don't return to office, and I applaud it and would not want to obscure or stand in the way of that. I think you do what you do - being a politician - with a passion and I wouldn't dream of telling you to stop doing it, or even to do it differently.
I didn't sign the petition at the time. My signature - much the same as my vote - represents me, and me is all I've got to give. So I don't give it easily, and certainly not thoughtlessly. I very much believe in living in the moment and I try as much as possible to stay away from "what if" discussions. At the time of the petition I was left with too many questions and doubts. Also, I was - and I still am - of the opinion that politics is not the only answer to problems. So my decision at the time was to not sign. I still think that was the right decision to make, at the time. But I also think the petition was a massive success and raised a lot of awareness about EHE amongst politicians. I can live with the fact that I am not always (*wink*) contributing to the good and successful things in society, in life.
At this moment I do - contrary to you - not see a functioning democracy. I of course base this on my own, limited, knowledge and observations. And it has everything to do with what I hold dear, such as mutual respect for people's uniqueness and autonomy, equality, compassionate care for each other and the world we live in, freedom of choice, freedom of education, freedom of religion, etcetera.
This to my mind incredible process of the "wash up" denies and ridicules all principles of democracy. It would of course be wonderful if the CSF Bill disappears in the wash up, but it will have disappeared for the wrong reasons, not as the result of a fair democratic process. And who knows, maybe it goes through, or partly goes through. I have my suspicions there. At the same time things might go through that shouldn't go through.
And can you explain to me what is democratic about "whipping"? Or about MP's who have their party membership suspended, but are still expected to show up for whipped votes? What about a review or a consultation of which the results are either ignored or purposefully twisted and used for a predetermined outcome?
These are just a few things and I could go on for a while. But even on the basis of what I've experienced in this whole EHE affair alone in the past year, my conclusion is that democracy is a farce in this country, at this time.
Yes, I agree. There are countries where people are oppressed and have no rights at all. But at least the regimes in those countries don't pretend to be democratic. And whereas I would like for everyone to have those basic rights and freedoms I was talking about before, I would never see the fact that other people don't have them as a reason not to stand up for my own.
Also, I do not consider what I do - and what Neil does - as non-participation. On the contrary. Wouldn't Balls et all be delighted if we would really non-participate? I would consider myself to non-participate if I would do what others tell me to do, without questioning why, without awareness of their or my own motives, without consulting my own conscience.
The Dutch Prince Royal, Willem Alexander, recently said in an interview that he raises his children to not only ask questions, but to always be mindful and critical of the answers and never stop asking questions until the answer truly satisfies you. I like that. I have tried to raise my own children in a similar manner. And I am trying to live in that way.
My biggest question to politicians in this country at the moment is:
Give me one reason why I should trust you to make decisions about me, my family and all the people and principles I hold dear.
I have not yet had a satisfactory answer.