A few days ago, a frustrated mother wrote a letter to the Irish Independent. The day after, my friend the writer and broadcaster Barbara Scully wrote a reflective piece sparked by her reaction to the letter. Ralph Riegal has a piece about it, too, saying pretty much the same thing as Barbara.
Cue much soul searching and reflection nationwide, as Facebook and Twitter share the letter and discuss its contents. Nodding in agreement with the sentiments and situation expressed by Ms Hartnett. But here’s the thing; Nothing will change because of it. It doesn’t matter that so many of us agree and are in the same situation. It doesn’t matter that so many people feel that their children are being short-changed by this government. It doesn’t matter that so many of us can recognise this as a form of child abuse. It doesn’t matter that so many of us have our hearts broken on a daily basis because we are not able to spend as much time as we would like with our children. It doesn’t matter that so many children are deprived of quality time with their parents. It doesn’t matter that parents suffer and children suffer and we are doing who-knows-what damage to future generations because one salary is no longer enough to provide adequately for a family.
Ms Hartnett has vented and turned the national gaze to what we’re doing to our children and ourselves in order to bail out the banks. She has focused our attention on what is the reality for many of us. But nothing will change because of it – except, perhaps, in the lives of Ms Hartnett and her family. I applaud and support her decision to excuse herself from the rat race and wish her well, but in the full realisation that we need a shift in culture in order to effect any real and lasting change in the lives of our citizens.
I have said this so many times already but I’m saying it again; in Ireland, we do not value our children in this country. We do not love them enough, as a nation, to do our best for them. We do not pass laws, make societal changes and enact decisions with our children and their well-being at their core. Until and unless we do, nothing will change. A rant, a vent and a few column inches as a result do nothing to change the status quo; in fact, all they do is maintain it.