Tomorrow when we will all hopefully go to the polls, we do so to take part in the drafting of a powerful statement into how we want this country to be. On both sides, there is a desire for a result that will copperfasten a way of thinking. And there is no doubt that whatever result is announced at the national count centre on Saturday evening, it will send out a powerful message about what this country sees as its direction.
The world has moved on and we have to empower a Constitution that remains relevant to the world we now live in. The other night I spent several hours in a nursing home visiting a relative. They sat against one wall, those aged 85 to 95. And in the absence of a spare chair, I took a milking stool on the floor in front of them and marvelled at their grasp of the referendum and how they were going to vote. They articulated well for both sides. They did not do so with the benefit of legalese or the smart aleck - university debating society types that come out everytime we have a referendum that involves a clash of Church and State. These women had more than two millennia of experience behind them. And when they spoke they did so with an eloquence and a wisdom that didn’t need a law degree or a university education. In the main they were people from humble backgrounds. But their opinions were rich.
They to-ed to and fro-ed on how they saw the various issues but in the end, they said that their vote would be to “reflect the world we now live in, not the world we grew up in”. They said that in there they get lots of time to reflect on life and love and what has changed in the world. And that at this stage in their lives, the last thing they want to be doing is depriving people of happiness. Or to be told what to do either.
And so they’re voting with their hearts. As we all should. This is a topic that asks us to vote with our hearts. Love is the most powerful emotion there is. It is what keeps us going; the search for it, the enjoyment of it, the loss of it. It’s what makes us sad. Love is far more than hate will ever be. Hate is an instant aggression. Love, it’s more gentle cousin.
And with that love we remember that we live in a country and a society that now seeks to include and not exclude. We have had too many generations of exclusion in the country, often involving the protagonists of Church and State.
I will be voting yes for myriad good reasons, but in the main because I do not like the narrow definition of families that has been proposed by the No campaign. Families come in all shapes and sizes, in all creeds and circumstances. There is no longer a capacity to pigeonhole families because when you pigeonhole families, you pigeonhole people. And there are more than enough reasons already that we find to belittle and mistreat and exclude and point at people without adding more.
I hope that when we vote tomorrow that we do so not with the intent of depriving someone of love, but enabling all to know its wonders. This referendum ought not be as divisive as it has become in recent times and perhaps for that we blame those with extreme reactions to the possible outcomes. It ought not be aggressive or hostile. No matter which way you feel you are going to vote tomorrow, please make sure you exercise the right. On an issue like this, it is incumbent on us all to show how we feel. For the love of our country and all who live in it.