From care to politics
The term “Dare to care” reminded me of my political experience in the Italian Parliament in the 1990s. It was the fruit of my experience as a Gen also of a family involved in the New Families Movement.
I had been a doctor for seven years and then a paediatrician. I was married and my husband and I were immersed in the splendid, engaging experience of raising three children. With many other young people and with the families of our small group we were engaged in the life of our city combating marginalization.
We were therefore immersed in “care” in terms of health, culture and society.
With Paolo and then also with the children, we had always wanted to build a family that was “open” to life, to others and to the world, but we never imagined what would be the consequences of this commitment.
One opportunity after another presented itself and then I/we found ourselves saying yes to a proposal to stand for Parliament that came to me unexpectedly. We felt it was the right thing to do: to dare to love. We had been loved by God and by all our brothers and sisters in the Movement and we had to respond to this love and we do it together.
Hence I found myself in Parliament concerned with the common good in a different way, within political institutions.
I entered Parliament with a wealth of knowledge that was not strictly “political”.
According to many people I was not well prepared for the job and it was true. But I sensed at the same time that the experience could have interesting potential regarding the “questions” to which a state must answer.
The family dimension, so constantly present, helped me never to detach myself from the reality of caring for people.
Working in politics did not mean having super-powers, but to live an experience that was never detached from reality. Telling bedtime stories to my children was just as important as speaking in the halls of parliament and my language always had to be the same. Holding together family and politics at the same time helped me never to accept the “code” of the “palace elites” of politics.
The social dimension, which was always very important for us to fulfil ourselves as a family, was transformed in my political commitment to the idea of a pact. I made a pact, which I never abandoned, with a group of citizens. They helped me, with their timely and well-informed criticism, to be the expression of a renewed democratic pact, in order to be able to deal with real and really important topics.
I and the two girls with whom I set up my parliamentary office studied a lot to be up to the task. We looked for various experiences in Italy and abroad and discovered that “care” in politics could engage us in a thousand different ways and turn into decisive political choices.
Annalisa Marinelli, the urban planner, in her book The city of care – affirms very appropriately that domestic intelligence (what you learn in taking care of all aspects of your family’s life) is a ‘political word’.
In short, in the end I discovered that doing politics still meant loving.
Love had illuminated my personal and family life and my commitment in society; that same love also had another dimension: even acting in politics was a question of love.
Political love must also maintain the same characteristics as personal love.
It is necessary to use the mind and therefore one’s intelligence, the heart with your feelings and imagination, your muscles with all the practical and concrete work. Political love too must be able to hold together the dimensions of attention to each person and building up the Common Good, because the common good is made up of the ‘design’ of each person. Each and every person carries within himself or herself a design and the greatness of a vocation. Only reciprocity between the personal and social dimensions gives rise to adequate political initiatives.
Care then becomes the inspirer of political priorities.
I will give you some examples.
– social policies are no longer treated as very costly and unprofitable expenses, but as investments, money that is generative in all respects, because it generates inclusion and social happiness; taking care of those in difficulty becomes the most appropriate measure to build an inclusive society that is a source of well-being for all;
– urban planning becomes a choice that highlights what can be re-used, restoring what has already been built, instead of building afresh on green territory.
– Foreign policy also takes on a very different dimension.
For example, I remember what happened in 1992, when I had to decide whether to vote yes or no for my country’s intervention in the war in the Persian Gulf. Every evening with my children we prayed for peace, and this helped me to try to understand clearly what to do. I studied the situation for a long time before voting and became aware of the media scam that was being served up in that circumstance. I voted no going against party guidelines and I am still proud of that today.