Mahatma Gandhi once said that when facing adversaries, they first ignore you, then they fight you and then you win.
Those people who despair at the apparent lack of progress in the fight for social justice for separated families need to take heart from Gandhi’s observation. We have successfully accomplished the first stage of the battle: they’re ignoring us. If you doubt this success, then read the report by the parliamentary inquiry into shared parenting and child support.
Being ignored is solid evidence that we’re well on our way to victory.
A lesson from history will provide further encouragement. William Wilberforce introduced his first anti-slave trade bill in Britain’s House of Commons in 1788. He was ignored. The bill was rejected. Many of his fellow parliamentarians thought slave trading was a good idea.
The way of life of these respected aristocrats, the grandeur of their manor houses, the finery and opulence to which their wives and children were accustomed, depended on the commercial benefits of trading opium in China and slaves in America.
Wilberforce’s appeal to the dictates of conscience, the principles of justice and the law of God fell on the deaf ears of a ruling class that adhered more to the form than the substance of religious observance.
This story has a modern parallel.
On 20 June 2002, Senator Len Harris introduced a shared parenting bill into the Australian Senate. It was called the Family Law Amendment (Joint Residency) Bill 2002. Len Harris a humble and decent ex-coalminer from Queensland, but as a One Nation senator was also unpopular in parliament and isolated.
His bill was ignored. It threatened the income of lawyers whose lucrative earning in family law is built on the misery of broken families when they are at their most vulnerable and need assistance, not plunder.
The Liberal Party (long mocked by Mark Latham as the Lawyer Party of Australia) decided that looking after their avaricious ‘little mates’ had a higher priority than dealing with the catastrophic economic and social effect of the de-fathering of society.
The Labor Party, trembling at the thought of supporting any proposal by a One Nation senator, took shelter in a redefinition of the notion of the family which devalues the role of the father and thereby, in their mind, extinguishes the problem of fatherlessness.
Non-custodial parents have been ignored for long enough. We need to take the struggle for justice to the next level.
We need to go the way of William Wilberforce.
Wilberforce fought for a cause which appeared hopeless, but his anti-slavery bill was finally passed.
How? Find out next week in Part 2: How Wilberforce Achieved Success.
[Photo by Sora Shimazaki