Feeling privileged today.

Being able to have a say in the people and parties who will govern my country over the next five years is a rare and special gift.

As I get ready to hop on my bike and cycle up to St. Anthony’s to cast my vote, I’m thinking today about the billions of people around the world from whom this gift has been torn, or never granted. For them, the concept of having a role in such a selection must be as alien as living on Pluto.

I’m thinking today about the 1.3 billion people in China, the hundreds of millions of people all over Africa, the Middle East and Russia, from whom this gift has always been withheld. I’m thinking today of women all over the world, whose lives are defined by servitude and humiliation and who will never have a say in their futures or those of their daughters – 200 million of whom have been genitally mutilated to satisfy the twisted beliefs of their male religious leaders.

I’m thinking today of refugees all over the world who not only cannot choose their governments, but instead have been forced to flee their governments who are persecuting them; I’m thinking in particular the one million who have fled to Europe, and I pray we’ll take good care of them.

I’m thinking today of the poor huddled masses who shame the democracies of the world, in slums from Delhi to Detroit and for whom, mired in their daily struggles to survive until tomorrow, the concept of voting or political changes feels so far outside their reach as to be inconceivable.

I’m thinking today of those in Ireland for whom such a decision seems worthless, such are their lives. And I’m thinking today of the hundreds of thousands of Irish people who were forced to emigrate to make a future for themselves elsewhere, some of my own family among them, and who today, unjustly, cannot have their say in their own country’s future. Next government take note.

I’m thinking today of the many past generations of Irish women and Irish men who were never granted the gift, the say, that I have today, and who lived in penury, hopelessness and persecution. And I’m thinking today of those nation builders who dedicated their lives to ensure that future generations of Irish men and Irish women would have days such as we have today.

And I know, I know, I had a rant a couple of weeks ago about the choices of political leaders we are faced with in this country at this time and the choices we’ll make (and I’ll blog later how and voted and why), but the fact remains that we have options and plenty of them.

And I am also grateful today for the many women and men who are putting themselves forward this morning for the role of governing this country; I may share the policies and visions of very few of them and I may roundly criticise others, but the fact remains that without such people we would not have a functioning democracy.

Yes, I’m feeling privileged today.

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