“When elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers,” is an ancient Kikuyu proverb that paints a graphic imagery of the suffering of children who are victims of wars and nonsense violence around the world.
You turn to television news and watch deplorable images of child-refugees being tossed across the border iron gates after walking hundreds of miles freeing violence and misery in Syria, Iraq attempting to cross into Europe. Wherever violence or war erupts, little innocent lives are cut short. Children are either slaughtered even inside their mothers’ wombs like we witnessed in Rwanda genocide—pregnant mothers being butchered and sliced by machetes, robbing a child a chance to ever see a single ray of the sun.
If more than half of the world’s refugees are children, then where is our future as humanity? The UNHCR Global Trends report (June 2015) detailed that “in 2014 alone 13.9 million people became newly displaced were children. Worldwide there were 19.5 million refugees (up from 16.7 million in 2013), 38.2 million were displaced inside their own countries (up from 33.3 million in 2013). More than half of the refugees are children.”
The big question is; who instigates wars and violence? Who really benefits? From way back, even beyond the memory of man, wars and violence have been instigated by power-hungry tyrants and greedy people pursuing selfish ambitions at the expense of the rest of society. Unfortunately, their evil motivations become so contagious that they gather a blind following who collaborate to perpetuate the massacres. The Nazzi and holocaust or Rwanda genocide are good examples.
A few days ago, on December 28, in the Christian tradition we honor the Holy Innocents, the children who were massacred by the tyrannical King Herod who felt threatened by the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:1-18). Herod was “greatly troubled” when astrologers from the east came asking the whereabouts of “the newborn king of the Jews,” whose star they had seen. Herod cunningly told them to report back to him so that he could also “do him homage.” They found Jesus, offered him their gifts and, warned by an angel, avoided Herod on their way home. Jesus escaped to Egypt. Herod became furious and “ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under.” The man had killed his wife, his brother and his sister’s two husbands, to name only a few.
Jesus became a refugee when he was just less than two years. The blood of innocent little children was shed. Mothers wailed and lamented inflicted by the piercing pain of losing a part of themselves—their small babies. Why? All because of a power-greedy king pursuing selfish ambitions, feeling threaten by an infant! Two thousand years later similar atrocities are still being committed against precious little God’s creatures. We, some of us, continue to sit back and watch in indifference.
War and disease claim lives of adults every day and millions of children are left orphans, becoming vulnerable to hunger, poverty, violence, rape, child labor, and abuse. UNICEF estimates that about 153 million children worldwide have lost one or both parents. HIV/AIDS alone contributes 17.9 million to this figure.
A number of questions could be posed to ponder. What kind of world are these children growing up in? What opportunities do they have to make it in life? Do they have a right to a bright future? What obligation do we, as society, have over welfare of these children? What are we doing to protect them?
It is true many organizations and institutions are reaching out to alleviate the suffering of children around the world, but more needs to be done. How do we cultivate peace and justice in the world? We need to work together to end war and violence. If we have put a man on the moon, why can’t we create peace on earth? We can!
When we wage war against children, we wage war against our very humanity. If we are to end violence in the world, we need to cultivate hearts filled with LOVE – love of humanity! When we have love and uphold the dignity of human life, we would not harm our brother or sister. Where there is LOVE, there is Peace!
Where there is a will, there is a way. Fired by the words of Steve Jobs, “the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do,” let’s get crazy and create a world where love, peace and justice reign, and thus cultivate an environment where, not just every child, but the whole of humanity, has an opportunity to thrive.