Politics isn’t for the young. They don’t need to know what’s going on in the world, regardless if they understand any of it or not. Rallies, protest marches and demos are no places for children; too violent and dangerous. Politics has nothing to do with children, just adults since adults have the vote and obviously understand and know what they are doing.
Do you know what? Bollocks to all of that! Children are very capable of understanding what is going on, even in simplistic terms; they can see and, given the opportunity, try and work out for themselves right from wrong. Children are far more astute than they are given credit for. And politics IS about and DOES concern them. People are making decisions about the future, our kid’s future, on their behalf, and some of those eligible to vote adults don’t have the faintest idea what they are voting for, as has been made abundantly clear in the wake of the EU Referendum held last week.
So here was yesterday: a rally organised by the Scottish Green Party, at Holyrood (Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh) held prior to our First Minister’s statement to Parliament and debate, regarding maintaining Scotland’s membership in the European Union. The rally was attended by over 1000 people showing their support for continued EU membership, including (A) and his friend (F) with their placards. And they were not the only children there!
Did they understand why they were there? Yes, they did. They both knew that their Mum’s voted last week to Remain in the EU and that we lost that particular vote. They both knew that we were both sad and angry with the result and that it would affect their future. They knew we were going to the Scottish Parliament to join other people who felt the same and were going to show support to the Scottish Government regarding trying to keep Scotland in the EU. That is all they needed to know. Apart from their own questions, which were answered.
I find that (A) and I have some of our most indepth and insightful conversations in the car, and on this journey to Edinburgh we had quite the discussion. We chatted about his banner – why there were 12 stars, why it about his future and not mine and which of the stars meant the most to him : jobs, peace and environment – why going to rallies was important, what rallies he’d been to and what they had achieved, then the most important bit – what we were going to chant??? Then for the rest of he journey, he sang a song made up of all chants of previous marches and rallies he has attended:
“Free! Free, Palestine!.
Bairns not bombs! Stop Trident now!
2,4,6,8. Save the earth it’s not too late!
Don’t bomb Syria!”
Part of the fun for (A) is carrying his banner ( sometimes making his own) and chanting. He does not like to be photographed or questioned, unless he volunteers. He informed a woman at the Bairn Not Bombs march that he was against the big bomb because it would “kill all the whales” – not bothered about people, but they can’t hurt the whales!
So far (A) has been to a street protest to free Palestine, a pro-independence rally at the Kelpies on the eve of the Scottish Independence Referendum, 2 further pro-indy rallies, the Bairns Not Bombs, anti-Trident march, where we marched in the procession round Glasgow, a locally organised Climate Change march, the Don’t Bomb Syria protest at the Scottish Parliament and then the rally yesterday. Every one has had a positive impact on him; trying to make a better future not just for him but for others too. Also it is showing him about the importance of standing up for what you believe in. And there has been not one bit of violence or any uncomfortable situations from which to shield him. They have been very inclusive, friendly and positive experiences.
After the rally finished and the MSP’s returned to Parliamentary Chamber for the debate, we too headed inside – through the security entrance where I set off the alarm and needed frisked. This always happens at the airport so I shouldn’t have been surprised. As I was being checked for “something “, both (A) and (F) took this opportunity to empty their wellies and shoes into the bin – they had gone for a paddle in the architectural ponds in front of the building and brought half of it in with them in their footwear! We took a wander around the ground floor of the Parliament which holds the history of the Scottish Government and Parliament, a fantastic photography gallery and of course, a gift shop (we came away with a cup and a pencil). Both (A) an (F) loved exploring here and were able to get hands on with viewing debates and testing themselves – neither of whom knew much about any of the history or stats but had fun playing with dials and rollers. During the viewing of the photography exhibit, both boys were drawn to a series of pictures of refugee children sleeping in various places, all of whom were fleeing war torn homes. They were shocked to see that this was how other children lived, in contrast to their own existence. (A) made the connection between those children and the rally he attended previously.
All in, it was a wonderful afternoon, for 2 boys learning about their country, what it means to stand up and be counted, to see and be part of a cause and to ask thoughtful questions. Infact (F) was even interviewed by the journalist from the local radio station. The Journalist was excellent with him (he really just wanted to talk into her microphone) and asked him the same questions she asked the others she interviewed, which he answered fully. He loved it and felt important.
In my opinion, you can never be too young for politics. If they are old enough to be interested and to understand, then they are old enough to engage. Lets not leave politics to ‘others’; every voice counts and the more educated, informed and engaged those voices are, the harder it is to be fooled and fleeced.