Friday, January 14, 2011

Children: The Litter of Our Landscape

We are all shocked and saddened by the Tuscon shootings, and, in particular, the murder of  9 year old Christina Green.  The shooting of a child exponentially heightens our outrage while intensifying our grief.  I understand our collective sadness; I don't know that we should be surprised, however, because it seems that in our society children are steadily coming to be viewed as dispensable.  Here’s why I am arriving at that conclusion:

**Our culture is all about ME.  Self-actualization.  Empowerment.  Self-fulfillment.  Individual autonomy.  Personal development. blah, blah, blah.  We seem to be moving in a direction where children are often viewed as an interference, an obstruction to MY goals, MY aspirations, MY pursuits.  I confess that when I was a young father there were times when I resented the necessity of attending to the needs of our children because it interfered with my own preferences and desires.  What comprised isolated incidents for some of us now appears to becoming a pattern for many in today's cultural climate.  If it's all about ME, then all others--including children-- become dispensable.  

**I understand these are uniquely different and difficult economic times which necessitate agonizing decisions to be made by parents.  Two incomes are essential for many families if they are to survive.  But--there seems to be a growing nonchalance, an indifference on the part of many other parents as to handing off their children to daycare or some other provider of care and abdicating their own personal responsibility to their children.  I get the sense that many don't want to sacrifice their comfortable lifestyle and their "toys," and in order to sustain that lifestyle they let someone else, in essence, raise and nurture their children.  "You take care of them during the day and we will tuck them in at night.  Well, one of us will. . . depending on who loses the argument."  Children are becoming an interference in our dogged pursuit of the American dream. 

**Rather than children being protected in war, they are being utilized as a means of waging war.  Explosives are strapped to children and then these innocents are told to run into the camp of the enemy.  Children are blown up as a means of blowing up more of the enemy.  Children are also being used as shields to hide behind.  Apparently titanium and Kevlar have become too expensive.  Let's throw a dispensable child in front of us, instead.

**I know that abortion is a complex issue with layers of moral and ethical ramifications.  I also understand that, at times, there are either life-threatening issues at stake or excruciating circumstances involved.  That being said, my impression is that for a number of couples an unexpected pregnancy and the possibility of a child entering their world would be a great inconvenience to their lifestyle and comfort zone.  The solution to the problem is to eliminate the child rather than curtail the lifestyle.  We can argue as to whether or not the fetus is a child; we can all agree that eventually, if the fetus is allowed to develop, a child will be born.  In those situations I’m alluding to, we are not merely aborting a fetus.  It’s not the 9 months gestation of the fetus we don’t want to hassle with.  It’s the decades of raising and nurturing a child that we don’t want to mess with.  I fear that children are coming to be viewed as a mere interference by some and that interference can be surgically discarded and now that couple can move on with their lives unencumbered.

I fear for us collectively as a civilization.  How a society regards its children speaks volumes about the likely moral future of that culture.

I also fear for you and me, individually.   And so should you.  What if our children someday return the favor and regard us as dispensable?


Emily said...

It's scary to see myself in the first item... and can be confusing to sort out when & whether it's purely selfishness or perhaps a lifestyle God has called me to. Sadly, it's probably more selfishness - and fear.

SJ said...

It is shocking and so terribly sad that children are viewed as an inconvenience, a commodity, a pawn to be used and abused in whatever way that people seem fit. The awareness you raise is to be commended but until society starts to value the lives of these children and protect as they should nothing will change.

Recent example of a boy 18 yrs of age given 2.5 years in prison for an act of stupidity, some may argue at just 18 he is a man but in my eyes he is still a boy. Whilst a grown man that murdered his 2 year old son gets 8 months suspended sentence - he doesn't even do his penance or his time because a child's life has no value in the eyes of those that see fit to call themselves our protectors.

If justice cannot find the worth of a child's life who will continue to be their voice to fight and stop these atrocities you speak of?

Steve said...

Emily, you raise a good point. It requires great discernment to ascertain our motives which fuel our dreams and plans. I don't believe that every couple is "supposed" to have children; sometimes choosing not to may be wise as well as caring.

SJ, I share your concern and discouragement. In response to your ending question, I firmly believe the church is to be engaged in actions of justice and compassion. The church has failed miserably but is making strides in serving as a voice for the marginalized and those who are incapable of exercising their own voice.

Hostel Tinktinkie, Santa Rosa de Calamuchita said...

Hi Steve, a story made headlines in one of our Newspapers about 3 months ago when a woman dumped her child in a supermarket for more than a month! She didn't claim him until a family member notified the media that they know the mother. He was only 3 years old, well dressed and couldn't speak word..only his name.

We were outraged! So many people came forward that wanted to adopt the child but the process here in Argentina is so complex that most of the children never get an opportunity to have a loving family. They grow up in houses where the parents are too lazy to work. It makes me so angry! It is so common to see a 15 year old girl with 1 or 2 children!

I don't think the mindset will ever change!

Thank you for sharing!

Steve said...

HT, The discarding of children certainly isn't confined to one particular culture, is it. In Honduras where my wife and I will be living and serving the poor for three months the fathers are abdicating their roles and their responsibility to their children, leaving the mothers to do it all. I wrestle with the sentiments of your last statement. I,t oo, struggle with maintaining hope. It's people like you,however, who give me hope. As long as you are outraged there is hope that you can make a difference.

Jim said...

A good issue that needs airing. But there are many more parents who do put family and children up top of their priorities.
They need support to ensure they can continue to do so.Higher wages, access to affordable education so they can upskill, lower interest rates so housing is more affordable...

Steve said...

Jim, a good reminder. There certainly are great numbers of you parents who are "in the trenches" and making great personal sacrifices in order to prioritize and provide for your children.