A man, is driving along on the street where he lives and he notices two neighbor boys playing with a mid- century chair in their driveway. He approaches them and asks where they got it. They tell him that another neighbor has thrown it away. The man, who sells things online, offers the boys five dollars for the chair that is in disrepair knowing it is worth more than that and the boys accept. Later, as the man does research, he finds that the chair is worth hundreds if not close to over a thousand dollars. He does not see what he has done. He sees only through the dollar signs in his eyes, and scoffs at the mention that his tactics were less than what was in the best interest of the children. Whether he sells it “as is,” or refurbishes it is not the point. The point is that he went onto private property, made a deal with naive, uneducated children, without any parent around and basically ripped them off. He did not think about the consequences of his actions on the children. It maybe tomorrow, next year or years from now, but one day, those children will find out that they were ripped off by a neighbor. They will find out the worth of that chair and it will have a profound affect on them. How will it make them feel? Well, try to remember the first time you were taken advantage of by an adult. Has the scar healed, or is it fresh in your mind as the day it happened? How did it impact your life?
There was a choir boy in a Catholic church. He was poor. His parents were alcoholics. In a day and age when divorce was considered a sin, they divorced. When the boy went to the back door of the church to get rations for the poor, he was turned away because his parents were divorced. The other boys beat him up and broke his new glasses. He was beat again when he got home for getting into a fight and breaking his glasses that could not afford to be replaced. He reasoned that there must not be a God who cares and turned his back on religion. He led a very unhappy life with low self- esteem and never matured emotionally. He used alcohol and his fists to solve problems and as soon as he could, he enlisted as a soldier in the Army to escape and try to make a better life. But it never happened. He died an old man, unable to cope with emotions or make meaningful relationships.
Then there was the girl who had parents that were musicians. They had rowdy friends and drank a lot. One day, one of the “friends,” assaulted her and she became emotionally unavailable to her family, found life difficult to handle and had frequent outbursts, She lived her life with bizarre behavior and acted out in ways her family never could or would not come to understand until after she died. She never forgave them for not protecting her.
A boy, forced to dig sewer ditches at the age of twelve, another forced to work the mines, and another, a girl, taken out of school so her widowed mother could work while she watched her five siblings. Not one of them lived a life of prosperity. Hard work was all they knew.
And saddest of all, a boy with his sister, find a loaded gun while playing in their mother’s bedroom and shoot out an open window into the woods, killing a man who had just stopped to take a break from work. A man, whose infant son would never know him and his teenage son left angry and alone. The boy, upon realizing what he had done, needed therapy to deal with the fact that he killed a man. He was just a little boy. The mother, had the gun illegally. His entire life is marred by a careless mother.
It pains me to say, that children have been subjected throughout history to some of the most heinous events possible and some go on to this day.
So much of what we do or do not do to and for children will affect the rest of their lives. Events, even small ones, can change a positive direction into a negative one simply by viewing children as non persons. When the fact is, when you interact with a child, you are talking to the future. You are molding a heart and mind into what will become a successful life or one of pain and struggle. The value that is placed on a child, largely depends on the mindfulness of the adult. But it is much more than that. The basic truth is that love is the single most important element that every child needs in order to grow up and become a complete and happy adult.
No one knew this better than Jesus. When the children were brought to him to lay his hands on them and offer prayer, his disciples discouraged them, but Jesus said, “Let the little children alone, and do not try to stop them from coming to me, for the Kingdom of the heavens belongs to such ones.” ( Matthew 19:14.) He loved and cherished the little children, because he knew the importance of kindness and never missed an opportunity to preach about his Father and give them a hope for the future.
Today, children are growing up with technology and losing the face to face interaction as well as being bombarded with fast moving video images and a, “what’s next lifestyle.” In a way, every child today is more prone to being abused by the world we live in simply by their exposure to life. What are you doing to ensure that the psyche of the children whose lives you touch, whether in a moment or in a lifetime is held by you as precious and sacred?
And so I offer this: that you commit to being mindful of the children by stopping and taking that moment to show love, in a smile to a passing child, a hug to your own, or a hand held for the long haul with a heart that is always willing to listen so you can be there to protect them from the opportunist, the abuser, the bully or the hard hearted. If you commit, show your support for the children and show others that you are up to the challenge of caring for the future generation and will stand up to right the wrong that comes their way. So that one day, they will not have to find out that their neighbor, family friend, parent, trusted clergy or stranger came into their lives and changed the course of their life from one of comfort into one of angst.