26 July 2011

Dark in the Summertime

I get the news I need on the weather report
Oh, I can gather all the news I need on the weather report

- Paul Simon, The Only Living Boy in New York

Sometimes a deep dark descends, even in the middle of Northern Hemisphere summer. I find myself reeling from the events in Norway, especially from the idea that an ideology could exist in anyone's mind which would desire the slaughter of children.

But then, I could listen to the debates in Washington, DC and see that an awful lot of Americans voted in 2010 for an ideology which abandons children and their parents for the sake of an extra buck in their pockets each week, so, I just don't know.

"If we had a system that really
recognised value added, it would be different.
But we have a system that increasingly
focuses on results. If you have a really
hard-nosed view and want your school
to succeed, this is what you have to do"
- Michael Murphy
Or I could find a secondary school head in Greenwich, England who thinks that separating children with fences and labelling them with colours based on his evaluation of their potential at age 11, is the best way he can "market" his school to the rich in his community.

And then there's Glenn Beck, currently heard on an awful lot of US radio stations (which ought to have all their advertisers boycotted).  Beck, too crazy for even Rupert Murdoch, compared the dead Norwegian kids to "Hitler Youth."

When I was a kid, and dark descended, I'd pull myself away from people and run. I'd run to the rocks and wetlands of the shore, or I'd run deep into the water. I'd escape into a natural world, where the only clocks were tidal and the only news was the temperature and the offshore winds. But I cannot do that in this season. I am haunted by this dark.

Why do we do these things to our children? Who in God's name are we?

Children are murdered, they are abused, they are segregated because their intelligence doesn't match up to what's expected by people like David Cameron and Bill Gates and Arne Duncan, they are left without proper health care, they are left in poverty because we can't tolerate helping out their "lazy" parents...

Just listen to the voices of kids in that school in England...
"If you were friends with someone in [the "smart kids' division], you are kind of enemies now, because you don't want to talk to them. If you talk to them you kind of feel like you're betraying [your division]...There was an argument in the school the other day and the girls were arguing between the fences ... it just feels like we've been cut off from them." But what does headmaster Michael Murphy care, he's got his rich kids into the building, he's collecting his salary, "We wouldn't have attracted the students otherwise."

What does the Norwegian murderer care? he made his political point. What does Glenn Beck care? Your local stores that advertise on stations which carry his show pay him lots of money. What does Eric Cantor care? He's living damn well.

But, but, we care. A lot of us care...

When I was back there in seminary school
There was a person there
Who put forth the proposition
That you can petition the Lord with prayer
Petition the lord with prayer
Petition the lord with prayer
You cannot petition the lord with prayer!

Perhaps we can only petition the Lord through our good works, through the prayers which are our most sincere efforts.


The only way to combat evil... the super-evil of child slaughter or just the run-of-the-mill evil of not caring for kids as a society is, in the words of the Catholic Catechism, "good works."

And so maybe all we can do is to fight this cloud by doing what we all do every day. Going out and working as we can to make the lives of children better, safer, and, yes, even more magical.

As Taoiseach Enda Kenny said last week, "to give our children maximum protection and security without intruding on the hectic, magical business of being a child."

That is what we will do. That is how we will dispel the dark.

Try imagining a place where it’s always safe and warm
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”

- Bob Dylan, Shelter from the Storm

- Ira Socol

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A wonderful, powerful post. I worry endlessly about kids these days too.. and the ever decreasing spaces available to them just to be.. both in their minds and in their environments.. Well written, @Leslinks