It’s the children. It’s always the children that get to me. Without blinking an eye, I can watch bad news on just about any channel. Impassively, I can listen to talking heads ramble on about the Ukraine, the Gaza, Ebola in Africa or unaccompanied children crossing our southern borders. But when the videos roll and images of suffering children assault my senses, my eyes blink back my tears. I ask myself, “Why do kids have to suffer and die? What did any child do to deserve this?” And then, a flock of troubling questions hover over me. The questions most often begin with “What if it was my child…?”
What if it was my child that went down in an airplane over the Ukraine?
What if it was my child who was killed by an artillery shell on a Gaza beach on a Jerusalem street?
What if it was my child gasping for breath as Ebola threatened to take his or her life?
What if I had to make the choice between watching my kid die on a Guatemalan street or to give my child a chance to live by sending her alone across the Texas border?
I don’t care about the politics. I don’t care to argue with anybody over policies that may address the challenges that face our country and our world. I don’t know the answers. I am not sure I even have the right questions. When I look into the eyes of a desperate child, however, and realize that that child could be my child, I do care. I deeply and profoundly care because, just like a pebble thrown into a still pond disturbs the whole pond, a suffering child disturbs my world. I embrace what I believe to be a Divine truth: Every child is my child.
Since I do care about all children as if they are my own, when I witness innocent children suffering, I look to the heavens and address my Higher Power: “Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord, listen to me! Have mercy on our children who are suffering needlessly or living on the brink of death. Lord, I am waiting. With every ounce of my being, I wait and I hope. I hope that you will reach down from the heavens and assure me that the tears of any innocent child will dry and that joy will come with the dawn.”
John E. Holt, Cotuit, MA