Some of us do not want to do anything with children; we do not want to have them ourselves and in our public sphere we would rather that children do not impose themselves on to our field of vision and in our field of hearing. I know some people like that. It is perfectly alright. I am not here to make any judgement. I am here to talk about the other lot; at the other extreme; those of us who weep tears of blood at the plight of children, those of us whose hearts shiver with suppressed sobs when we hear of suffering of the poor mites. I am with the latter category. That does not mean that I am any better a person. It just means that I go all gooey eyed when I think of children. That is not a merit, trust me. It means that I suffer more.
In the year of Our Lord 2016 as we approach another festive season we are presented along with an array of luxury goods, the traumatized children of Syria. All side by side. The good and the bad, neatly packaged. On the large screen in the cafe this morning the news thrust itself on me and having no remote control I turned my face away. I need not look. I know. What am I supposed to do with it, except weep inside. I am sure this is what people do. I used to rage. I used to hold governments and individuals to blame. I used to wish cancer on their genitals for the next seven generations. But what does that do except make me mean and hateful while the ones responsible for it all sit complacent with large stomachs and clean shirts.
With age comes wisdom they say. Now I am too old to act out my rage and I know the impossibility of it all, the impotence that faces well-meaning people, the uselessness of such rage, the waste of energy. Rage is negative and does not do anyone any good; in fact it does me harm.
Besides, there is no one there to rage at. The forces that made countless children drown in the Mediterranean sea all of this year, although they have human faces, are as impermeable as the sea that drowned them. These monsters are akin to the force of nature, like the hurricane that carries away thousands, or the fires or the water that comes to people’s homes to steal their lives. All mere elements. We have to live with that. We are as powerless to fight these creatures as we are against hurricanes and tsunamis and earthquakes. These monsters remain impassive as if their faces were etched into mountains. There you have it. Sorry if I got out of the pram a bit. I need my nappy changing.
To come to the point of this post, I decided to focus my energy, whatever I have, in the other direction; in the direction of love and compassion. That is all we have. Sending money into the wind does not do it. We educate people to love. I know it is a trite, overused word. Sometimes words are inadequate to express emotions. But I use the word to trigger in your minds that feeling of all encompassing compassion which is greater than the love you have for your pet dog. Try to grab this greater feeling and try to focus it on those children. Our own children only decades ago went through severe trauma and felt an inexpressible sense of helplessness, fear, horror and despair. But those of them that survived grew up to have children themselves and to cherish them. That was decades ago and in our collective memory that period in our lives is fading. There is no absolute guarantee that our children would not again go through such helplessness, fear, horror and despair. History has a long memory and it so likes to play tricks on us just when we do not expect it.
The Syrian children are not those other. They are our children of the past, our children of the yet to come future. We have a responsibility to love them in our hearts and weep for them everyday as if they are our own children. That is all I ask; I do not ask for money, I do not want praise, I want your hearts to melt, your eyes to weep, your limbs to shiver with compassion.
And when you put your child to bed tonight, think of a mother somewhere, or a father somewhere in an an utter and devastated wasteland where it is windy and cold and where there is no shelter, where abysmal terror stalks the land trying to comfort a child. Christ had it good compared to that child.