My heart goes out to the parents and families of the children who are dying in Gaza, Israel, Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Somalia, and many other war-torn countries. Listening and watching the various news programmes of what happened to the young children in these war situations makes me wonder what life is really all about.
The sadness that has happened to the children mentioned and shown in the various news reports is unbearable for me and for so many parents and I am sure for everybody who is following the various news bulletins from these countries, and the countless other countries where children's rights are abused and ignored and are not shown on news reels. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their family members in their sadness and worry.
I also remember four years ago being in Ethiopia adopting our second little girl and the tragedy, sadness, and suffering I saw in some parts of that country was so sad. The people, especially the children in these countries such as Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Niger, Burkina Faso, and our own country of Ireland, need plenty of our help, support, love, and prayers. Let’s not forget that 196 children died needlessly in our own country’s State care in the last number of years. Also spare a thought for the other nine million little children who die globally each year in often horrendous circumstances, just because it is not on the news doesn't mean it’s not a reality. Also the using of children as shields in war-torn areas of our world is an utter disgrace. We all should be ashamed.
To live without hope is the most crushing of all burdens. Everywhere I have travelled over the last 24 years with my work in the developing world, especially in famine torn areas, I saw children with a look of despair. I was reminded of the words of the American writer James Agee, who said: “In every child who is born, under no matter what circumstances, the potentiality of the human race is born again, and in them too, once more and in each of us, is born again our terrific responsibility towards human life.”
After reading and seeing these news reports from various war-torn areas, and also on how difficult it is here in Ireland for some children with special needs and difficult illnesses to access proper treatment and medical cards and support, I have started to hug my two little girls more tightly and I am thanking God for giving me the opportunity to have them in our lives and for the wonderful gift they are to my wife and myself.
I remember the poem called ‘To My Child’ by Sally Meyer on the wall of a children’s hospice I visited that went as follows, and probably will mean so much to every parent after seeing what happened to vulnerable little children at the hands of people in power in the past few weeks and indeed months in so many countries in our world,
To My Child
Just for this morning, I am going to smile when I see your face and laugh when I feel like crying.
Just for this morning, I will let you choose what you want to wear, and smile and say how perfect it is.
Just for this morning, I am going to step over the laundry, and pick you up and take you to the park and play.
Just for this morning, I will leave the dishes in the sink, and let you teach me how to put that puzzle of yours together.
Just for this afternoon, I will unplug the telephone and keep the computer off, and sit with you in the backyard and blow bubbles.
Just for this afternoon, I will not yell once, not even a tiny grumble when you scream and whine for the ice cream truck, and I will buy you one if he comes by.
Just for this afternoon, I won’t worry about what you are going to be when you grow up, or second guess every decision I have made where you are concerned.
Just for this afternoon, I will let you help me bake cakes, and I won’t stand over you trying to fix them.
Just for this afternoon, I will take us to Supermac's and buy us both a Supermac's meal so we both can have toys.
Just for this evening, I will hold you in my arms and tell you a story about how you were born and how much I love you.
Just for this evening, I will let you splash in the tub and not get angry.
Just for this evening, I will let you stay up late while we sit on the porch and count all the stars.
Just for this evening, I will snuggle beside you for hours, and miss my favorite TV shows.
Just for this evening, when I run my fingers through your hair as you pray, I will simply be grateful that God has given me the greatest gift ever given.
I will think about the mothers and fathers who are searching for their missing children, the mothers and fathers who are visiting their children’s graves instead of their bedrooms, and mothers and fathers who are in hospital rooms watching their children suffer senselessly, and screaming inside that they can’t handle it any more.
And when I kiss you good night, I will hold you a little tighter, a little longer.
It is then, that I will thank God for you, and ask Him for nothing, except one more day.
It is so important to do something special with your loved ones, especially your children, because life is short and we must do all we can to protect them and give them real hope for the future, for they are our future.
Please remember the children in need in our world, and indeed in our towns and villages throughout our beautiful country who all need our help, support, genuine care, and prayers now, for tomorrow will be too late for a lot of them.
I believe there can be a brighter future for our children in Ireland and indeed in our world, but we all must shoulder the burden to do all we can to protect and give genuine care to our children and, indeed, learn from what has happened in our country and our world and many other situations where the lives of children have been affected, or ended, that have surfaced in the last few years.