With friends like these…

Respect, loyalty and support is a two-way street.

It is the foundation of Fathers4Justice.

What a pity then that a minority of people who proclaim to ‘support’ Fathers4Justice spend more time criticising the organisation than supporting it. Even more depressing is the fact that many won’t even defend the campaign when challenged. Apparently it is easier to find the time to publicly criticise Fathers4Justice, than it is to support it or do something constructive to help us promote the cause of equal parenting.

Of course, it is easy to bash a campaign online from the safety of your laptop and the majority that do have never joined Fathers4Justice or raised a finger to help. Ever.

In fact, many of our critics have no association whatsoever with the campaign, yet mysteriously feel they have some right to vent their frustrations at us, generally from a position of extreme ignorance.

Then there are those that trade on past endeavours, who disingenuously claim to support the campaign, whilst achieving the dubious, double-whammy of actively supporting other groups and simultaneously attacking us online for everything from ‘lack of leadership’ to ‘lack of focus’. Really?

I’d like to see any other group out there deliver the publicity we delivered in the last 4 weeks.

Of course for some its ‘the wrong type of publicity’ – a bit like the wrong type of leaves on the track. Others say F4J is all about ‘publicity’ – well, Bentham did say ‘publicity is the very soul of justice’. But then that takes away from our parliamentary efforts over the last four years. Anyone remember the broken Tory party promises we received? If you are placing your faith in politicians, good luck to you. You’d be better off believing in Father Christmas.

Others seem wrapped up in an unhealthy obsession with my role despite the fact I haven’t run F4J since 2008. Many will be aware that I have a business to run alongside my other projects and looking after my family.

Thankfully the vast majority of people actively support the campaign and are rightly offended and concerned by this dark malaise that undermines our work.

They also appreciate the heroic efforts of our small but dedicated team who have worked tirelessly in getting this campaign back into the headlines, running the web sites, managing the admin, the media campaign and dealing with the thousand plus enquiries we receive every week. Yet instead of receiving our support, they are often on the receiving end of a worrying rise in personal abuse and threats which they receive on a daily basis.

All this concerns me because this has happened during these last few weeks when we have enjoyed the best period of campaign coverage in 9 years and seen a 200%+ increase in the number of visits to http://www.fathers-4-justice.org

Curiously, there is always a spike in disruption to our activities just as our campaign starts making headlines and getting traction again. Just a few months ago we warned of the risk posed to the campaign by informers and infiltrators who will do anything and everything to stop our campaign plans. It appears our concerns were justified.

Like any pioneering movement, we are resigned to the fact that we are constantly fighting a simultaneous offensive and rearguard action against so called friends and foe alike.

And it is the actions of fair-weather friends who should be supporting Fathers4Justice that gives rise to our greatest concerns.

Their lamentable lack of support feeds this ugly malevolence and allows it to spread unchallenged like cancer throughout the wider movement. Worst still, it gives succor and support to those that seek to destroy F4J. This is not to say that we should be immune from constructive criticism.

Equally there will always be disagreements and frustrations in any campaign, but people should respect the rules and regulations of this campaign and not wash their dirty linen in public. It reflects badly on them, on us and on the campaign. It can only please our enemies in government and family law to see this unsightly squabbling.

Mass fatherlessness is a national emergency and it demands a campaign run along strict, professional, lines like Fathers4Justice. As witnessed with other copycat groups, without this discipline, the campaign would not have endured for 13 years.

They say a fair-weather friend isn’t much help in an emergency. I’d say a fair-weather friend is no friend at all.

Every person in this campaign has a duty and responsibility to pledge their loyalty and support to Fathers4Justice. To those that do not agree with us, do not let hatred and bitterness poison the work we are doing for our children. We can do so much more if we respect one another and devote our energies to attacking the system, not each other.

After all, if we can’t respect each other, why should anyone respect our campaign for equality?

Equal parents, equal love.

Matt O’Connor

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