Strange feeling this morning, I am actually afraid to look at the overnight news updates, hoping and praying that this cease-fire holds….
Adult political conflicts produce permanent harm to children. The least able, and least interested in starting or conducting a war, are also the least able to protect themselves from the overflow destruction of war. They have become the “collateral damage” of conflicts; in many ways like a building destroyed by an on purpose, or errant missile. But we can rebuild that building in a way that I don’t think we can rebuild a human being; particularly one whose classroom and teacher is war itself. That is why we need a cease-fire on the international war against children. I am thinking about 3 groups of children who now face an uncertain (for sure interrupted) education: The Nigerian children who have been physically and violently kidnapped; and also those Nigerian children whose schools have been destroyed; who now can’t attend school, and thus their dreams have in a sense been kidnapped.
The children of Gaza whose lives have been physically and mentally devastated. Most of their schools probably destroyed or badly damaged. These schools, if they still exist and are salvageable, understandably, will be at the end of the reconstruction effort. Of course, the restoration priority must be food, water, shelter, hospitals and electrical power. In these types of conflicts schools are the first institution to close, and more than likely the last institution to fully open. And even then, one wonders how can a child learn in a school (that they thought would be a shelter) that was hit by bombs; accidental or otherwise; do they sit in class not able to concentrate because they are thinking and waiting for the next bomb to fall? Sadly, the recent conflict in Gaza set an important military standard for modern democratic nations; schools will no longer serve as sanctuaries for non-combatants. We can painfully see in Nigeria what happens when a national army lowers itself to the standards of the stateless, rule less insurgency.
And then I think of the children trapped on the US border; trying to escape violence, hopelessness, political and social upheaval in their native countries. Drawn by the lighthouse one might seek when lost in the sea of trouble and turmoil. I am wondering how and when these children will be able to get into a formal school setting. With education, time is not neutral; the loss of time is a negative, that can’t truly be made up. I don’t believe that American (or British, Japanese, German, etc.) have a monopoly on love for their children. I truly believe that these parents sent them not because they don’t care, but because they saw no other hope for their children; I believe these parents are desperately trying to save their children. Staying in their native lands would mean a quick, or eventually death. And so it is strange to hear Republicans, and other right-wingers “de-peoplelize” them, and refer to them as “invaders”; as if these children are on a military mission to topple the U.S. government. There is a need to cease the incendiary language, and behavior, take a deep breath and show some compassion. The same people who continually refuse to vote, or even discuss a comprehensive emigration plan, (that was on the table before this present crisis) are the same folks who want to engage in political theater at the expense of these desperate children.
They are in fact are using this crisis as an opportunity to go after and deport those “Dreamers”, presently in the country; that’s just plain old mean. I believe that there is a purpose and reason for a rich material blessing( i.e. America); and when you treat your own blessing as an opportunity to deny to other children what you so want for your own children, that blessing turns into a curse. Religions, Nations, political factions, that don’t see the children of the “other”; as real children, are surely dooming their children to live in a world where the forgotten “other” children will act out their pain.