Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Children's Deaths Should Never Be a Footnote

I've crept away from the warm bodies of my children in my bed to get down the thoughts that are in my head tonight. Because of my work, my volunteer work, and the events of Sandy Hook this past Friday, I've been thinking a lot about the lives and deaths of children. These are a few things that happened in quick succession in the last few days listed in chronological order.

  • 20 children ages 6-7 were slain in Newtown, CT in their own school 
  • 10 girls between the ages of 9-11 were killed in a rural district of eastern Afghanistan on Monday when a roadside bomb exploded while they were collecting firewood
  • I lobbied in two Senate offices on behalf of the 20,000 children who will die this year from horrible treatable and preventable diseases like measles and polio.

I said I listed these in chronological order - not the order of the importance - because the point of my writing is this: every death among all of these children is as unacceptable as the others. None is more important than the others although every day thousands of them are just footnotes. Children's deaths should never be a footnote. But they are. Every day around the world, children are facing horrors they shouldn't have to and some are more publicized than others. The Afghani news story was about two sentences on NPR after extensive coverage of the Connecticut massacre. No coverage will ever be given to the kids who succumbed to pneumonia this weekend. Yet they were all precious lives.

President Obama said at the Sandy Hook Memorial: "If there's even one step we can take to save another child or another parent or another town from the grief that's visited Tuscon and Aurora and Newtown and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that, then surely we have an obligation to try." I agree. And I take it even farther. 

If you feel gun control of assault weapons will protect children in American schools, speak out!

If you are outraged by children hurt in by roadside bombs, landmines, or drone attacks, speak out!

If you cannot abide the thought of kids suffering needlessly from hunger and disease, speak out!

If you are driven to tears by another way kids are losing lives, don't keep it to yourself. Speak out!

Search yourself and find an action that speaks to your heart will help save lives. Then, do it. Contact your senators and representatives. Write to the President. Please don't take the business of the holiday season as an excuse for inaction. I was fortunate that I already had lobby appointments about child survival set up in Senator Durbin's and Senator Kirk's offices for today, so I got to speak my mind directly about the need for global health for kids as well as discussing Senator Durbin's positions on gun control. But I'll have much more to say on a number of topics in the coming days. 

Because as horrible as all this talk about the lives lost every day is, do remember this. Working together, we have the chance to SAVE the lives of kids every day. And that twist of thinking means all the difference to me and what I know we can accomplish if we rise up and demand better treatment for ALL children everywhere.

Not everyone believes in a heaven, but bear with my metaphor, please. The 20 tiny American souls met with 10 little Afghani souls and countless new angels from all over the world. And God spread open his arms to welcome and love them all just the same. Can't we do the same while we still have our children here on Earth?