Children need us to speak for them, that in everything we do we put their welfare above our selfish adult interests. Children are the future? They are the active testimony of our way of acting
Recently we have witnessed unspeakable horrors derived from war, and in all cases, the saddest, shocking, outrageous and painful images are those that show children suffering some kind of physical or emotional suffering, derived from the circumstances in which they they are living. They are heartbreaking images.
Today I want you to realize, however, that war is not the only way that the innocence, tenderness, hope and smile of children can be shattered.
A few years ago, Dallin H. Oaks, one of America’s most renowned law and legal experts (he was a Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of Utah), gave a speech on the responsibility we, as adults, to protect the well-being of children at all costs: “No one should resist the plea that we unite to increase our concern for the well-being and future of our children – the new generation.”
Children are exposed to our actions
The decisions we make as citizens, as people with the capacity to act independently, the actions taken by public officials and companies often have repercussions far beyond what they consider to be their areas of influence.
And this is where I think it is urgent to raise awareness; I quote the words of former Minister Oaks: “Children are very vulnerable. They have little or no power to protect themselves or secure their livelihood, and little influence on how much it is vital to their well-being. Children need others to speak for them, and they need decision makers putting their welfare ahead of the selfish interests of adults.
My mother says that a child is such a defenseless being, but at the same time so noble, loving and full of trust, that they shake your hand if you ask them and thus, holding your hand, they are able to follow you to a rock and throw themselves into the void if you ask.
Some terrible facts
Many children are abandoned by their parents, there are others who suffer violence, mistreatment, abuse and crimes from adults. There are governments that recruit children to use as soldiers, just as there are organizations that sexually exploit them (data taken from UNICEF reports).
“In the world order, almost eight million children die before reaching the age of five, most of them from diseases both treatable and preventable,” former Minister Oaks quotes from a UNICEF report. A quarter of all the world’s child population never reaches the fullness of their mental or physical development due to inadequate nutrition.
Within the family there are also hard data
Although the value of work must be taught, child labor exploitation is as severe a crime as any other type of abuse. Do not think that I am talking about things far from our reality: I know many mothers who, thinking of enjoying the income of their children, stopped sending them to school and put them to work as slaves, from sunrise to sunset. The endings of their stories are not encouraging at all. They are rather sad.
On the other hand, although sometimes the dissolution of a marital union is inevitable or perhaps necessary, even in those cases children are exposed to a gale of confusion, pain, guilt and desolation that many parents simply do not know about. From that simple psychological abandonment to parental alienation, again, children are exposed, vulnerable, without the possibility of defending themselves.
Children are our responsibility
As you can see, a child does not need to be the victim of bombardment or crossfire in battle to be exposed to the gravest horrors. Everything in them is fragile, tender and must be preserved as completely as possible with our care and love.
A passage from the New Testament comes to mind, the words of Jesus, the center and motive of that volume of sacred writing, referring to children: “And whoever receives a child like this in my name receives me. And whoever causes any of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him to have an ass’s millstone around his neck and sink into the depths of the sea ”(Matthew 18: 5-6).
I will say it again: “children are the most vulnerable sector of any population.” You should never forget that not even when you are acting as a father, nor in your role as employee or boss or businessman or ecclesiastical leader or social leader, much less in your role as a public official.
Children are everyone’s responsibility. They are our hope for a better world, but they will also be, in the future, the active testimony of our way of acting in the present.