Sunday, July 3, 2011

an excerpt from an article from portland: the university of portland magazine

i have moved countless times since graduating from college...and never once alerted the university of portland (my alma mater) of my whereabouts, but somehow they always find me.  :)  four times a year, they send me a copy of PORTLAND: the University of Portland Magazine.  in the seven years (yikes, years?) since i graduated, i have thumbed through the pictures of a handful (or two handfuls...maybe...) of times and maybe read four articles, but i actually sat down and read through a lot of this issue (summer 2011).  

 i have cut out some of the more upsetting/disturbing/sadening (not really sure that is the word i'm looking for, but it'll work) parts of the article so that while i think it still drives home its point, it isn't so melancholy that you miss the potential joy that change could bring. 

"Why Do We Say One Thing About Children but Do Another?"
By: Brian Doyle

Why is that?

Because, as you know and I know, they are really and truly, no exaggeration and hyperbole whatsoever, The Future of the Planet.

Because soon enough we will be in their grubby gentle hands and they will be making all the crucial decisions about clean water and wars and health care for decrepit ancient gaggles of Us.

Because we swore and vowed to every god we ever imagined or invented or dimly sensed that we would care for them with every iota of our energy when they came to us miraculously from the sea of stars.

Becasue they are the very definition of innocent, and every single blow and shout and shiver off fear that rains down upon them is utterly undeserved and unfair and unwarranted.

Because we used to be them, and we remember, dimly, what it was like to be small and frightened and confused.

We say one thing about children as a nation and a people and a species and we do another.  We say they are the holy heart of our society and culture and we lie.  We say the words family values like a cool slogan on a  warm flag that wraps protectively around the smallest and newest of us but we let them starve and wither...and live in the snarling streets.

Why is that?

Because even the best of us, the mothers and fathers and teachers and nurses and doctors and counselors and nuns and coaches and other sweet patient souls who listen to children with all their open hearts, cannot hope to reach more than a few of them, and so many of them go unheard, unwitnessed, unmoored, unmourned.

What could we possibly do worse than that?

Because even the most cynical and weary of us in our iciest darkest moments has to laugh when we see a cheerful toddler trying to cram a peach up his nose, or an infant chatting amiably with a dog, or a tiny kid leaping over a tiny wave at the beach and being pretty proud that she showed that old ocean who was boss, yes she did!

Because if we are any shard or shred of the people we want to be as Americans and human beings, we have got to take care of them before we do anything else at all, we have to coddle and teach them, and feed and clothe them, and nurse and doctor them, and house and hold them, and be patient as they thrash toward who they might be if they get enough light and water and song, even if, as they stumble through their teenage construction zones, they thrash mostly against those who love them most...

...I know how incredibly hard most of us work on behalf of every kid we know.  I know more brave and weary people breaking their backs for kids than I can count.  But there are a lot of kids we don't know, lost kids, scared kids, kids who are headed to an ocean of blood and despair.  How can we catch them on the beach?  How can we bend the bruised and blessed world an save them?  Because they are all our kids.  And all they want, all the ever wanted, is us.

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