Campaigning from the heart
It’s been a strange week, looking at the campaign from different perspectives and evaluating strategy. I reached two conclusions. One, better to build strong foundations for a new campaign than rush into it. Two, campaign from the heart, not under the influence of others. When I started F4J back in 2002, it was an instinctive response to a situation. It was born of my personal experience. Now I find myself wanting to run a campaign that unites families, a campaign that doesn’t pray on the gender divide (which is what the courts and their cronies want) but brings us together. A campaign of hope, not hate.
The refocusing on ‘family’ is born of my personal experience again. I may be that rare individual who has had the misfortune to see the grotesque and cruel family justice system abuse both fathers and mothers, and most importantly, the children they purport to protect. This experience and knowledge has had a profound effect on me.
We can’t solve this problem without the help of mothers – lets face it, most of the fathers involved have new partners who have kids. So why let us fall into the trap of doing exactly what the courts do – pitching parent against parent? Instead, as Gandhi said, lets send a message of love.
And on that note, two things have happened this week. Firstly one of my heroes, my cousin Elizabeth has become an OBE for services to children and families. I can’t say too much about this other than to say she is one of the most remarkable people on God’s earth and an inspiration for my work. As she often tells me, I apparently speak ‘bible truth’ which I hope is a good thing.
Secondly, we have been writing our ‘Anthem for Justice’. Having written several songs in the last 12 months (for my rock and roll Ice Cream brand) I have had the privilege of working with some talented musicians. Even my brother David has written some powerful material and revealed a hitherto secret talent for political songwriting. On Friday we gathered in London to thrash out the structure based on my lyrics and I hope what will be recorded will be a suitably anthemic song for the campaign.
As if that isn’t enough, we are shooting a video and laying down the basics for an F4J documentary. Stunts and protests will then follow. It’s as much as we can do for Fathers Day to get the song and video out but as I said, what matters are that we build strong foundations and a campaign from the heart, to the heart of government.
Matt O’Connor, Father and Founder of Fathers 4 Justice