Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Whose Child Is This?

Some friends have taken in a baby boy via the foster care system with the intent of adopting him. He came with nine broken bones from abuse he had suffered. A baby. It's not that I didn't know that such things happened, but the sudden proximity has left me still shaken. But in truth it's not merely the nearness -- it's the knowledge that I've been there. No, I've never assaulted my children or anyone else's. But what parent -- stressed from a difficult day with bills overdue -- hasn't come close to snapping?

As a culture, we have in effect discarded far too many of our children. They live in poor neighborhoods, attend ineffective schools, receive inadequate health care. For the most part, their crime is to have been born into poverty. Indeed, it seems as if there is no worse crime in this country than to be poor. 

Sadly, inexplicably, Jesse Jackson's words to the 1988 Democratic party convention ring even more true today: "Most poor people are not lazy. They're not black. They're not brown. They're mostly white, and female, and young. Most poor people are not on welfare. I know they work. I'm a witness. They catch the early bus. They work every day. They raise other people's children... They clean the streets... They work in hospitals... They wipe the bodies of those who are sick with fever and pain. They empty their bedpans. They clean out their commode. No job is beneath them, and yet when they get sick, they cannot lie in the bed they made up every day. America, that is not right. We are a better nation than that..." Would that we were...

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