Monday, November 20, 2017

Observing World Children’s Day

As you may know, today (November 20) is World Children’s Day. At least the World Council of Churches (WCC) has been promoting today by that name. Since 1954 the United Nations has been calling Nov. 20 Universal Children’s Day—a different name with the same basic emphasis.
The Appeal
The WCC asserts that today is “a time for world community and churches to express their dedication to children’s wellbeing” (see here). Surely this is an appeal that most of us can respond to positively.
UNICEF (The United Nations Children's Fund) also calls today World Children’s Day and encourages thought and action for the sake of the children of the world (see this link).
The Problem
A sizeable number of the world’s children are in dire straits. While the numbers have, thankfully, significantly lessened in recent decades, still according to WHO there are around 15,000 children under five who die every day. Perhaps as many as two-thirds of these deaths were/are preventable.
So perhaps at least 10,000 children under five needlessly die every single day because of hunger and because of malnutrition-related and other health issues that could be remedied by inexpensive medication.
In addition, according to a UNICEF report issued a little over a year ago, nearly 50 million children worldwide have been uprooted from their homes due to violence, poverty and other factors out of their control.
Here is a picture of Rohingya refugee children reaching out for food in a refugee camp in Bangladesh—and these are better off than many Rohingya children are now. 
This is just a partial look at the problems many of the world’s children are facing at this time.
Our Response?
What can people of goodwill do for the sake of the world’s suffering children?
1) We can become more aware of the deep need of so many of the world’s children. That is one major intention of today being designated World Children’s Day—and one of the main purposes of this article.
2) We can seek, over time, to elect politicians who are concerned about the welfare of people, especially children, worldwide rather than focusing on making America “great again”—especially by such things as enacting tax reform (or “deform”) that benefits primarily the wealthiest in the land. To a large degree, the suffering of so many children, here and abroad, is a political problem—in both the narrow and the broad senses I mentioned in my previous blog article.
3) We can examine our own lifestyles and buying habits in order to see if there are ways we can share more generously to help alleviate the serious needs of some of the world’s children.
Some charities endeavor to support needy children by seeking monthly gifts to help individuals. World Vision is one organization that does that, and years ago June and I sponsored children through that organization. I have recently learned about a similar group: Kids Alive International, which has an excellent rating by Charity Navigator.
Perhaps it is better, though, to see the “big picture” and work for societal change by supporting organizations such as UNICEF (which doesn’t have a very good Charity Navigator rating), Bread for the World, or Water.org. (The latter two organizations are not just charities for children, but children benefit greatly from their activities.)
So, on this World Children’s Day, I am asking each of us to consider what we can do to help the suffering children around the world. 
And many of us have to grapple with this difficult question, especially during the upcoming holiday season: Why do my children or grandchildren need so much when there are so many children who have so little?

9 comments:

  1. Marian Wright Edelman is a tireless advocate for children in the U.S. She wasn't writing for World Children's Day as such, but her 11/17 Child Watch Column is quite powerful--and related to one small part of my article. Check it out at this link:
    http://www.childrensdefense.org/newsroom/child-watch-columns/child-watch-documents/WhyAmericaMayGotoHell.html

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  2. Very meager response to today's article: To this point this is the only feedback received, a brief email message from Thinking Friend Glenn Hinson:

    "A wise and timely challenge, Leroy. Thank you."

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  3. Well, Leroy, after reading Edelman's powerful link, I suspect many have been stunned into silence. Yet, harsh though her link is, the truth is worse. We are going to Hell because America has normalized sexual assaults on women and children. We are going to Hell because America is the leading Imperialist power that is destroying God's green earth upon which all of us depend. We are going to Hell because in America a man can say that if Jesus Christ said Trump is wrong, he would ask Trump, and gets widely quoted without being censored. Some Christian America we have here. See link: http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2017/11/20/voter-panel-trump-supporter-camerota-sot-newday.cnn

    Back to green earth, this is the single worst thing that is happening to children, and to everyone else. We are destroying the environment because the dominant economic philosophy of our day says that the environment is an externality that does not count, and that philosophy is so successful that its very success is exposing its internal inconsistencies which are leading to massive environment destruction, not to mention the exploitation of children and their families. We stand on the brink of possible irreversible climate disaster, with methane leaks from a thawing arctic threatening growing rapidly into a global warming threat that we lack the ability to reverse if it happens. The methane is coming out faster and faster. The danger of a massive explosive release is real. Scientists are quite confident in this, because greenhouse gases are greenhouse gases due to fundamental physics. Small molecules with two atoms, such as atmospheric oxygen and nitrogen (the vast majority of our atmosphere) absorb and release energy in higher energy levels. Complex molecules such as water vapor (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) are more active in the infrared range, which means they absorb and then release infrared radiation from the earth, which basically reflects some of the heat release of the earth back towards the surface. Methane is a large molecule, which is far more powerful as a greenhouse gas than even water vapor or carbon dioxide, hence the huge danger from a massive methane release in Siberia, Canada, or the Arctic Ocean itself. There are absolutely massive quantities of methane frozen into the land and seabed which pose an existential threat to our civilization.

    For more on the dominant economic philosophy driving this problem, see this link to an article "Capitalism: Not With a Bang, but With a (Prolonged) Whimper" and the powerful first comment with two strong links: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/11/capitalism-not-bang-prolonged-whimper.html

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    Replies
    1. Craig, thanks for your substantial comments and for powerfully pointing out the overwhelming problems of environmental destruction and capitalism, two problems that are intimately connected, as you note.

      Thanks too for the link to the hard-hitting article on capitalism. Reading it and what you wrote in your comments makes me think I ought to write more articles about these problems--but at this point I am not sure I have any good idea/plan for combatting the problems.

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  4. This is powerful if we but take only a moment to think on it. This reality should be enough to push us to action of almost any type to push back against the political and economic forces that create such a tragedy as thousands of children suffering daily. We cannot claim to be the Good Samaritan but we resemble the proud and haughty

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