Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Let's Stand Up for Our Children

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Let's Stand Up for Our Children

Article excerpt

How will we say thanks for the life, for the Earth, for the nation and for the children God has entrusted to our care? What legacies, principles, values and deeds will we send to the future through our children?

The answers lie in the values we stand for and the actions we take today. Can our founding principle "that all men are created equal" and "are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights" withstand the test of time and the tempests of politics, becoming deed and not just creed for every child?

Is America's dream big enough for every fifth child who is poor, every sixth child who is black, every seventh child who is Hispanic, and every eighth child who is mentally or physically challenged? Can our children become the healing agents of our national and world transformation, and spiritual and economic salvation?

Protecting children is the test of our humanity and the overarching moral challenge in our world and nation, where millions of children's lives are ravaged by war, neglect, abuse and racial, ethnic, religious and class divisions among adults.

In the last decade, the U.N. Children's Fund reports, 2 million children have been killed, 4.5 million disabled, 12 million left homeless, more than 1 million orphaned or sundered from parents and 10 million traumatized in conflicts throughout the world.

In the United States since 1979, more than 60,000 children have been killed by gunfire in our homes, schools and neighborhoods in a civil war on our own young - more than the number of American soldiers who died in the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars and U.S. engagements in Haiti, Somalia and Bosnia combined.

In the richest nation in history, we appear unashamed that a child dies of poverty every 53 minutes and that children are the poorest Americans. We do not express outrage as political leaders of both parties propose policies to make them poorer.

We talk about family values, but we turn our backs on the real needs of families for jobs, decent wages, child care and health care. Although we bemoan a few victims of extreme acts that kill children, such as the murder of Susan Smith's young sons, we do not mend a child welfare system that lets an abused child die every seven hours.

How much suffering, death and neglect will it take for you and me, religious, civic, community and political leaders, to stand up and cry "enough" with our hearts and voices and votes?

Every day in America, 2,660 children are born into poverty and 27 die of poverty. Every day, 8,493 children of all races and classes are reported abused or neglected, and three die of abuse; 16 die of firearms violence; 2,833 drop out of school; 2,700 get pregnant; and 790 are born at a dangerously low weight.

We are first in military and health technology, but 18th in the industrialized world in infant mortality. …

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