Of all the human activities, at least two, among the most important and difficult, can be exercised perfectly legitimately without any training: parent and politician. And that’s a mistake.

If it is obvious to me that you cannot require a diploma, training, income level, or social status to have the right to have children, you can undoubtedly propose, finance, encourage, if not impose on future parents training in all aspects of relations with a child: affective, hygienic, nutritional, educational. At present, even in the most advanced countries, such as Finland, there are only voluntary training programmes, in the form of discussion groups in maternity wards or elsewhere, online resources, social centres, associations of parents of pupils; even if there are some private training companies for kinship. Society would benefit from doing much more. This would prevent many abuses, many blunders, many mistakes, many deviations, with incalculable consequences on the physical and mental health of children, and on how they in turn will conduct themselves as parents.

Similarly, to become a politician, no degree, no training is mandatory, nor even recommended. Of course, we should not impose diplomas, which would mean instituting a new kind of censal system, in which only the rich had the right to play politics. There are, of course, in most democratic countries, training courses for elected officials, especially local elected officials, but they are often quite derisory: a few hours of lessons in all. That is far from enough. There should be much more consistent training for all elected officials, whether in a deliberative or executive role. For example, candidates for the next European elections should be able to benefit from, if not even justify, training in the issues and mysteries of the European Union and its institutions.

For both, there is also another problem, just as important: fewer and fewer people want to be parents. Fewer and fewer people want to exercise elected responsibilities. No society can survive this threat.

For parenthood, the stakes are high: demographics are declining everywhere and all countries are groping about the best choices: should longer parental leave be granted? More financial resources for parents to better house? More resources for nurseries, schools, extracurricular? All this is undoubtedly necessary but will not be enough to make you want to give birth to children in a difficult century, especially because of the climate crisis. Parents must also feel respected by society, and by their children; they must feel appreciated; their role, when they fulfil it well, must be valued and glorified. And that it is much easier than today to find an equivalent position when you have spent time raising children.

For the exercise of responsibility, in the same way, it is difficult everywhere to attract candidates for local and national elections. Although it is not too difficult to find candidates for parliamentary positions, many social categories are less and less represented: fewer and fewer trade unionists, researchers, engineers, executives, doctors, lawyers, intellectuals, journalists, writers, are interested. Again, it will not be enough to increase their income (and it may not be necessary everywhere). Rather, it should facilitate their return to their previous activities after the exercise of a mandate (without, however, reopening the way to conflicts of interest, which have done so much harm to public life, and which continue to do so in many countries, especially in the Anglo-Saxon countries). Moreover, we should create the conditions for greater respect for the elected: no one wants to be insulted, dragged through the mud, called liar, thief; and even worse, to expose his family. Stricter sanctions against online insults and defamation should be studied; without obviously going back on the imprescriptible right of journalists to seek the truth and put elected officials face to face their mistakes, or worse, their turpitudes.

No human community will survive without well-prepared and respected parents and leaders.


Image: Big Media.