As parents and grandparents once again struggle to determine how to explain to their children current headlines of moral indecency at the highest levels, adults everywhere are reminded that we must all continue to strive to be the examples we want our children to emulate. We cannot depend on anyone else.
I believe the Old Testament prophets, the Gospels, the Koran—indeed all great faiths—history, moral decency and common sense beckon us anew to examine as individuals and as a people what we are to live by and teach our children by precept and example. I urge adults in America of all races, faiths and political persuasions to make a difference by teaching our children to love themselves and others as God loves us. We must teach our children at every age how we expect them to treat themselves and others respectfully and fairly and then struggle to model that behavior daily no matter what people in power, public figures or role models are doing or how often we fail to meet our own standards, get up and try again.
To our children, I hope they will make a difference as they grow by being courageous, aiming high, and holding on to ideals of mutual respect; by caring and serving; by being honest and telling the truth; by persevering and not giving up no matter how difficult the challenge; by being determined and resourceful; by being grateful for the gift and wonders of life; by working together with others; by being compassionate and kind; by being nonviolent and working for justice and peace in their communities, nation, and world; and by being faithful and struggling for what they believe.
It is so important for adults not to let ourselves off the hook or to become apathetic or cynical by telling ourselves that nothing we do can make a difference. Every day, light your small candle. It just might be the one that sparks the movement to save our children’s and our nation’s future.
Lord, You told us, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
The world says, “Blessed are those high on spirits.”
You said, “Blessed are those who mourn.”
The world says, “Blessed are those who maim and torture.”
You said, “Blessed are the meek.”
The world says, “Blessed are the arrogant and the strong.”
You said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”
The world says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for fleeting power and fame.”
You said, “Blessed are the merciful.”
The world says, “Blessed are the mercenary and punitive.”
You said, “Blessed are the pure in heart.”
The world says, “Blessed are the hard of heart.”
You said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
The world says, “Blessed are the weaponmakers.”
You said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.”
The world says, “Blessed are those who persecute for the sake of riches and race.”
You said, “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil about you falsely on my account.”
The world says, “Blessed are you when people applaud and praise you for your own sake.”
Help us, Lord, to find our way to You.
And help our Congress, citizens and all our leaders across every political ideology heed Your call for a more decent and just America for our precious girls and women as well as our boys and men who are all sacred in Your sight.
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.