We can’t live like this anymore

During the 10-minute drive to work this week, I listened to a local NPR station’s daily call-in show. The topic was child abuse, and the story was based upon a recent BBC documentary and an article in The Guardian newspaper written by an American physician who works at a hospital in Houston. She has studied and thought about child abuse deeply, and encounters the young victims and their families on a regular basis at her hospital.

Here’s what had me start to cry. In the last ten years in America, four times more children have been killed by their caregivers than American service members have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. The United States has the worst child abuse among industrialized nations, four times worse than Canada and eleven times worse than Italy. Children who have been abused are 700 times more likely to abuse others. Across the nation we are radically reducing support for child protective services. An example: in Hawaii, a recent budget that allowed the state to take care of 4,000 to 6,000 children was cut, reducing that number to 100.

What are we doing?

How is our country/culture producing this situation?

Why are we not paying attention to this?

What can we do? How can we be so that this ends?

For me, this is not a news story, but a dark and disorienting revelation of how we are living. We are clearly focusing on the wrong things: winning sports or winning elections rather than taking care of those people who are fully dependent upon us.

Let’s take the writing and reading of this blog as a chance for each of us to closely investigate the dark corners of our own hearts and minds so that we can see whatever hatred and violence lurk there.

Let’s not exclude ourselves from participation in a way of living and a system that is bringing this to the world.

Let us redouble our courage in speaking up and our sensitivity to seeing and feeling into all those situations where child abuse may be occurring.

Let us heal ourselves if in our own childhood we have been abused. The abuse will come out if we don’t face it in the presence and with the support of experienced, skillful people.

Let each of us bring ten times more love and kindness into the world every day than we ever have before.

New Ventures West