Saturday, March 20, 2010
Kathryn Forrester Thro, Poet Laureate, Call to Action on behalf of the world's children
Among my friends, I'm delighted with the countless acts of chivalry and everyday kindnesses I see towards myself and so many others. But I know we all do battle in the outside world with just the opposite
Just yesterday, I had some chance encounters with rudeness in which I could have let the incivility go and simply ignored the behavior, but I did not. These can be teachable moments. I had what I call a "table turning" moment. Are you shocked? I had one of these moments years ago at the local general assembly when I did not like the attitude I was encountering in regard to caring for our homeless brethren and people in crisis.
I generally choose to listen quietly and learn. So many of my friends are great scholars and many are great citizens making a difference in the world in their own way. Do nice people make a royal fuss when things get out of hand? Most certainly. I believe I had more fun upsetting a few tables in front of our good senators than many have on Mardi Gras. Yes, Virginia, there is room for temperament. It is good to keep it under strict control, but as Shakespeare noted in Henry V "Nice customs curtsy to great kings." Go ahead and have your say. When you encounter injustice, if there is no table handy, stand your ground, draw the line and say "No more."
My brave hearted friends know my moods well. My silence may one moment be adoration or possibly sadness or disdain. Do not always think you know you have discerned it. That's the charm of life and a lady's prerogative.
Kindness is born of love and consideration of others as equal human beings. Yet how many times do we see people begging on the street and how many people respond to their pleas by attempting to ignore them? Yes, some are perhaps running a dishonest game, but many are not. How many people live in desperation? Do we turn out hearts and minds away from them?
How many good people have lost jobs and face poverty? What should our attitude be to those countless people without health insurance? Do we take the "I've got mine, you get your own" attitude? What of other's political stances? Can we dare to express opinions at the risk of losing friends of opposite viewpoints? I have good friends from all sides of the political spectrum who, I trust, respect mine. We must all find some common ground.
I have dozens of people I consider friends who have the most surprising opinions on subjects close to my heart. But they base their opinions on their particular life experience and have every right to them as I do mine. I'm intrigued by their opinions and their loyalty to their causes, and often surprised when we agree on anything at all.
I find most people of good upbringing to be the same.
On a global scale, some, not all, of the "haves" have always simply dismissed entire generations of "have nots" by dismissive and superior attitudes. "The Poor" nations become a silent, unwanted shadow that the rich nations attempt to blot out by a process of shunning and dis-inheritance. On a day to day level, people choose to interact either with awe and wonder or by turning away from whatever is unpleasant or frightening, thus a silent holocaust occurs daily:
One in two children in the world face hunger every day. One in two. Twenty five thousand children in the world die every single day, a known fact. Hunger, disease and poverty are their killers. Twenty five thousand. One child every three and one half seconds. This is the epitome of social injustice and a turning away from all that is decent or civil. A simple "google" on hunger and poverty gives us these facts, and the same websites tell us why these facts are not in the headlines. UNICEF, who relays these figures to the world, wrote of this and is clearly seen on the website "Global Issues." These are not my findings, but those of experts around the world. Many have said, before me, "Every three and one half seconds, snap your fingers together and pray a silent prayer, because another child has died." Some say the answer is to battle the despots and tyrants around the world who stop the trucks delivering aid. Some say the churches are doing all they can. Band Aid, Farm Aid, all who help are blessed. What is the answer?
A young woman made the news recently as the latest victim of Taliban injustice: Forced into marriage at the tender age of sixteen to a much older man, she managed to escape at nineteen. But she was found, and her nose and one ear were cut off. She survived to tell her story to the world, thanks to a woman's shelter which helps countless victims such as she. Her rescuers are true examples of chivalry in action, and what the world needs. But what to do to prevent such cruelty in time to save others from the tyrants? Enlightenment and well wishes may come far too late for so many.
Chivalry is love in action. Civility is meant to be extended to all persons, and most especially "the widows and children in their distress." Whatever your belief system, whatever politics you hold close to your heart, be open to those at the forefront of the cause of benevolence. We must all choose our battles. Yours is as sacred as another's. And mine? I like to think of Christ among the children. Heaven, he declared, is made of them. All around the world, both near and far, they hold up their little faces to us like small flowers reaching for the sunlight. It is love they are reaching for. For some of them, the view is blocked by tyrannical abuse, child trafficking, hunger, disease and poverty. Others bask in love daily. Someday they will be the ones to battle for others.
Just now, we are those who must battle for them. We put on whatever armor we hold most holy, and stand our ground. We draw lines daily, we pray, we watch and work in the world. Your calling, although different from mine, is just as worthy. Mine is to link those in desperation to those who can help. What begins as civility in our own, quite fortunate society, must expand, must extend to all other people of the earth and most urgently to each child.
As the Global Issues site points out in regard to the twenty five thousand dying every day, "this is an earthquake daily." and yet we seldom read or hear of it. Haiti's earthquake grabbed the world's attention, as did hurricane Katrina, and so many other natural disasters. Yet to hear that one precious child dies in the world every three and one half seconds due to poverty, hunger and disease, is a holocaust beyond all others. In the holy season of Lent, when we see the sacrifice made by Christ and His Mother in giving Him to the world, we can, no matter what our religion, see that love must extend to all. "True religion and undefiled before God is caring for orphans and widows in their distress." This is our common ground: seeds of love arising out of compassion and flowering into joyful, benevolent acts towards others.
In the name of love, in all that we call civility, all that is holy calls us to action in such a time as this.
Who speaks for the children, who cannot speak for themselves? Perhaps only our loving actions towards them, in their plaintive distress.
Love and prayers.
Foundress of Mary's Joy
A helping hands link. "Linking those in need with those who can help."
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