Friday, August 8, 2014

Lives of Children are not getting any Better




You brought us to the world, now we belong; If you keep us safe, we'll sing  you a song





A painting of children at play by Karen Arnold
While childhood is supposed to be the happiest and loveliest part of life for humans, it is very tragic that large parts of the world have become increasingly unsafe for large numbers of children. Despite much progress in other areas of life, humans appear to be failing when it comes to children. Unless this trend is reversed it will not augur well for the future of mankind. While poverty due to economic greed, exploitation, corruption etc. is a serious cause for hunger and malnutrition amongst children, the present note is not about that since that is not a problem specific to the modern age, even though some of it has returned to the most developed parts of the world too as economies have returned to their historic trickle up mode after a brief lull of around fifty years and wealth inequalities have increased. There are other articles on that issue in this blog. This one is about causes that have little to do with poverty.

As humans urbanize and cities grow, playgrounds are disappearing and children are becoming exposed to crime that thrives in urban anonymity. Increased traffic and pollution is affecting health and safety adversely and a lack of green and outdoors, especially in apartment living is compromising emotional health. Earlier posts in this blog have advocated greener living and proposed new designs for cities (AM Cities) that incorporate planned green spaces within the cities. Children would be the greatest beneficiaries of such living.

I can say without hesitation that childhood was much better when I was a child than it is now. Few women worked and mother was always around when needed. We walked or ran to school without any danger of predators or traffic and open spaces were in close vicinity of homes to improvise as a cricket or football field whenever a group of children so desired. Outdoor play is without doubt far healthier than one on a computer console or in front of a TV screen. However while all this is unfortunate, something much more tragic is taking place.

Wars are causing children to flee their homes even without their parents in many cases. This is happening due to drug wars in Central American countries, ethnic and tribal wars in Africa, and other wars in places like Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan. While in Syria it seems to be because a brutal dictator will just not step aside, in Iraq it is because of ancient differences between ethno-religious factions uncontrolled by an effective government. In Palestine it arises because land belonging to its original inhabitants has been occupied or blockaded so that they are not able to live with freedom and dignity anymore. Their protests, not always peaceful as Gandhi advocated, is leading to the occupiers not being allowed to occupy peacefully and live without dangers of attack to their population. They have responded to the danger to lives and discomfort by a gruesome slaughter of hundreds of children in response to two of their own civilians killed, while damaging several thousand more along with their homes, just over the last one month, with the help of weapons and support from some of the leading powers of our world (see here).

Why the leading powers do it is not fully clear to this author. They say it is in their strategic interest but one wonders if it is a misplaced economic interest that revolves around their arms industry. It is misplaced because if economic activity in production of weapons is disrupted, investments would automatically move to another more peaceful area leading to alternative economic activity. From the beginning of civilization very many humans have not been averse to causing even extreme misery to other humans when it comes to satisfying their greed, and as mentioned elsewhere in this blog greed has no automatic safety valve to limit and put a stop to it as lust has. Using a different set of human values for one's own and others is not uncommon. That this should continue to happen in the modern age is a severe indictment on human progress. It does seem that exposure through modern open flow of information will first expose then chip away this evil.  However, old habits die hard and it will take time. That time has not yet come. The democratic part of the world looks up to America as the leading democracy to uphold human values most especially when it comes to children. However, whenever it finds that some other political or economic agenda has interfered in this objective it is disappointed.

Whenever there is war and upheaval, unscrupulous vested interests develop to take advantage of the situation and make a profit. They make resolution difficult. They offer all sorts of arguments covered in blatant lies to defend the status quo. It is really is up to the world that is still at relative peace to do whatever they can at an individual, organizational, national and international level to help improve the situation in any way they can.


Painting by Karen Arnold

One could also ignore all this, why get involved? However, when it comes to children, if not from compassion, it is the duty of adults to work towards making their lives better, first their own if they have any, and then those elsewhere too. Then there is karma for those who are spiritually inclined and what better karma can one earn than helping other vulnerable humans in need, children being the most vulnerable of them all, and what worst karma could a human accumulate than ignoring the heartbreaking cries of a child in deep pain and suffering.

May all the the children of our world play free of fear and sleep in peace.



Child images adapted from http://publicdomainpictures.net

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