13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Everybody Matters: A Memoir (Hardcover)
This book is a great easy read, and it has a right to be included in the National Archives of many countries. The pages fly past, all illustrating the advice she gives to young people 'not to be afraid to speak the truth to power'. She comes across as a truly great woman, wife, mother, grandmother, and who is proud of Ballina. Her years of study in law prepared her to articulate the defects of society as she observed them as a politian, President of Ireland, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and also as an elder.
Young people will not remember the nation's early fervour around the Constitution, which made everyone equal under the law, and gave no-one the right to be wrong. Who best to determine what was right than the Hierarchy! They regarded marriage as an institution which was the cornerstone of the State and civilisation. There would be no children born out of wedlock. There would be no divorce. There would be no contraception of any kind, homosexuality was an abomination, abortion will never happen. Everyone had a right to a Catholic education where these principles would be firmly taught. But institutions are about PEOPLE. The hierarchy fought every attack on marriage with every instrument of power it had, including their faithful political associates. Their lack of ability to appreciate the destructive nature of their own power saw over the years the very values they sought to defend disintegrate in their own hands. They will blame the secular society. Mary was at the heart of the change they resisted, and she was no secularist. She helped give Irish people the legal opportunity to follow their conscious because everybody mattered. The hierarchy are now calling people (whom they have unofficially excommunicated) back to grace without as much as saying sorry for past spiritual trauma, let alone taking ownership of them.
The 'candle' still burns in Arus an Uachtarain, as a symbol to our emigrants that they are appreciated. The Chairman of the Irish Centre London, Mr. Frank Caulfield, used to recall how Ireland would export it's cattle for every penny it could get, but gave it's people away for nothing. Millions of them! Mary was conscious she was President of them all, and she showed it. She made the office of President as meaningful as she could in all parts of Ireland, including the troubled 'North'.
One got the feeling that the Office of High Commissioner of Human Rights for the UN was another completely different ball game. It was a man's game, and she was trying to the change the rules. There was something inevitable about casualties of war, casualties of exploitation, casualties of famine, casualties of gender, causalities of culture. They have always been there; let the charitable give help, but we'll get over it. Not good enough for Mary, and she tried to change a culture of tolerance into an effective resolution. In doing so she got a few 'black eyes' so to speak. There also seemed to be blood on the floor and some of it was hers!
Where did this power come from? A clue is perhaps on page 305. "I learnt as a child watching my father ...the immese power of listening, a simple act with enormous impact." This book could do the same for you.