As we begin the New Year, every new headline reminds us that these are very tumultuous times. I start this season redoubling my determination to focus all my energies towards helping build a transforming movement for children to end child poverty and inequality at this extremely dangerous time of attempted regression. And we must all strengthen our efforts to continue to try to provide a moral compass and example for our young and organize relentlessly to protect all of our children. The Children’s Defense Fund’s mission to leave no child behind and ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities has never been more important. These are extremely perilous times for children and for our nation and world. Although we face unprecedented challenges and threats to the safety and well-being of children at home and around the world, we must all resist and take whatever actions are required for as long as it takes never to go backwards.
So often we procrastinate and make excuses for our inaction, depression, and despair. It’s not the right time. I can’t make a difference. It’s not my business. Nobody will pay attention. It’s overwhelming and my little bit doesn’t matter. We must struggle with ourselves and ask God’s forgiveness and help to keep being useful and not let daily distractions keep us from pushing forward. And we always must remember that it is always the right time to do right. I share an adapted version of Madeleine L’Engle’s poem “First Coming” (used by permission in my book Guide My Feet as published in Imagining the Word):
God did not wait till the world was ready,
till . . . nations were at peace.
God came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.
God did not wait for the perfect time.
God came when the need was deep and great.
God dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine.
God did not wait till hearts were pure.
In joy God came to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
God came, and God’s Light would not go out.
God came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.
We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
God came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!
These words are a reminder and encouragement for all we must and will do in the new year. As the holy season comes to a close and the time for new beginnings emerges, let’s commit to moving forward together for children with purpose, determination, gratitude, and joy.
Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children’s Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to www.childrensdefense.org.