What a week it’s been. It’s hard to conceive that despite opposition from hundreds of organizations including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the AARP, and dozens of disease and patient advocacy groups; despite loud protests through town halls, demonstrations, and social media from many thousands of their own constituents who know they will be hurt; and despite all the dissension and division amongst themselves, Senate Republican leaders are still committed to scheduling a vote early next week to destroy health care for tens of millions of Americans — young and old, and those with disabilities.
As Senate Republicans spent the last few days in closed door meetings frantically trying to plot new ways to achieve their wretched plans to destroy the Affordable Care Act and end Medicaid as we know it, hundreds of people of faith spent the week gathered at the annual CDF Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry. We were together to rekindle our shared conviction that all great religious traditions call us to acts of love and justice especially for children who are impoverished, vulnerable, marginalized and excluded, and to renew our deep and shared commitment to resisting evil and injustice with unrelenting determined nonviolent action. This passage set the tone:
Thus says the Lord:
A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.
Thus says the Lord:
Keep your voice from weeping,
and your eyes from tears;
for there is a reward for your work,
says the Lord:
they shall come back from the land of the enemy;
there is hope for your future,
says the Lord:
your children shall come back to their own country.
So what do we do when our children’s lives and futures are under shameful sustained assault by Congresspeople and a President enjoined to protect them? What do we do when our elected leaders refuse to give up on politically motivated plans to end Medicaid as we know it and seek to dismantle and tear asunder the health, nutrition and other safety nets for millions of children? People of conscience and common sense must fight back nonviolently with all our might. We must persevere and work without ceasing, trusting in God’s promise: “There is hope for your future…your children shall come back to their own country.” And like Rachel, we will refuse to be comforted until our children, all children, are restored to a land of safety, justice, compassion and care.
Let us pray for ourselves as parents, teachers, preachers, and servant leaders across the land that we will help solve rather than cause the problems our children face and that we will do whatever is necessary for as long as it is necessary to meet the needs of our children, always reminding ourselves that we are never alone.
O God, we pledge to work and pray to save our children’s health care and food and other supports and their lives.
O God, we pledge to pray and work to protect our children’s dreams.
O God, we pledge to pray and work to rekindle our children’s hopes and fiercely defend their right to survive and thrive and safely prepare for a future on a level playing field.
O God, we pledge to pray and work to rebuild our children’s families and communities.
O God, we pledge to pray and work to create a just nation and world for all our children.
O God, we pledge to pray and work to instill in our children a knowledge and appreciation of You, manifested in all faiths and sacred traditions.
O God, we pledge to pray and work without ceasing until our rich and powerful but spiritually impoverished and anemic nation commits to leave no child behind®.
O God, guide our feet as we seek to make our nation fit, safe, and just for all children because we don’t want to run this race in vain.
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 staging.childrensdefense.org.
Mrs. Edelman’s Child Watch Column also appears each week on The Huffington Post.