This past week the world held it’s collective breath as twelve boys and their 25 year old soccer coach were rescued over a three day period from an water-filled underground cave in Thailand.
I know I was not alone in being buoyed with genuine relief as an international coalition of divers and rescue operators combined their effort to save these kids.
Proof positive that we are better together.
Yet I cannot help but wonder why these twelve children should be the focus of our intense caring and compassion while elsewhere in the world children’s suffering is sloughed off like yesterday’s White House staffers.
Certainly Syrian refugee children floating in rubber boats in the Mediterranean, being turned away from ports in Spain and Malta, deserve our compassion.
As do children of color being shot down in Chicago streets.
Why does the sight of children being separated from their parents at the U.S/Mexican border justifyingly compel thousands of us to march in the streets yet when kindergartners in Newtown are slaughtered we can only wring our hands in horror?
Hearts are melted daily by cute baby pictures, infants gurgling make intelligent adults speak baby talk and the antics of toddlers memorialized on Youtube go viral.
Yet our hearts remain cold to the fact that a full 20% of children under the age of 17 in the USA live in poverty, and as many as 13.1 million children stateside go to bed hungry at night.
In the United States, we send our children to a school system where mass shootings have become normalized, with the only suggested solutions to arm teachers or give kids bullet proof backpacks. Practice lockdown drills have become de rigeur.
School buildings are crumbling, books outdated. Teachers for our schoolchildren need to strike to be awarded cost of living wages.
In order to achieve a secondary education U.S. kids take on massive amounts of debt, stymieing their ability to buy homes and have children of their own.
It’s as if we have somehow forgotten the future of our world is dependent on the future of our children.
There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.
The most important role models for our children are parents and caregivers yet with parental leave still not universal in our country, many parents are forced to leave their six week old infants with minimum wage workers at the neighborhood daycare.
There are more American teens and children than ever before struggling with anxiety and depression. Recent research suggests the number is now more than one in every 20 kids.
The Center for Disease control (CDC) DC reports that suicides among youths 10-17 has increased 70 percent from 2006 to 2016.
I cannot help but think that our kids are the canaries in the coal mine of our society.
Their anxieties, their behavioral problems, their inability to understand their intrinsic value are reflective of the ills in our society, namely the fact that we have forgotten how to value one another. These little persons merely mirror back our emphasis on profit over individual.
And so I wonder if, by making our children our main focus, we can begin to heal humanity.
Certainly, if we are looking for a common denominator to bridge the gap of understanding between countries, we need look no further than our children. Each of us have some emotional investment in future generations, be it our own biological or step children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or the kids down the street.
When we look into the innocent face of a youngster in our life, don’t we automatically feel the need to protect and nurture them?
Can we extend that protective feeling go beyond the familiar? Beyond nationality? Beyond religion? Beyond age? Beyond skin color?
Can we replicate the compassion we felt for 13 unknown young men in a cave half a world away in our daily interactions with others?
Can we can begin to imagine a time when policy is made for the good of future generations instead of for the good of stockholders?
When we no longer believe the choice is between US or THEM?
Where we KNOW that all lives are an extension of ourselves?
When we can live in that Heart Space we will be much closer to bringing about the collective shift that is so needed in our world.
Can you imagine it?
With Light and Love for All,