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Child Watch® Column: "Give the Gift of Caring and Sharing This Season"

Release Date: December 17, 2010

Marian Wright Edelman

No matter what faith traditions we come from or celebrate—Ramadan, Christmas, or Hanukkah—this time of year is one of reflection on what really matters. The average American family spends hundreds of dollars on gifts during this season. It's wonderful to share special times and gifts with friends and family, but for many adults this holy season has been commercialized and become defined by shopping for the "in" toys, clothes, and other material gifts we think our children want. And while it's fine to give children these things when we can, we should never forget to give them the more important gifts of ourselves—our time, attention, and family rituals—that children need. We also should be teaching them the importance of sharing with others. Too many children are afflicted by physical poverty, but too many are afflicted with "affluenza", the spiritual poverty of having too much that is worth too little. Perhaps this season we can teach that the greatest gift is one of caring, sharing, and service.

As those of us who are Christian celebrate a poor, homeless child threatened by Herod's violence which took the lives of innocent first born boys, let us commit to standing up and caring for the millions of children in our midst who are destitute, homeless, and hungry, and threatened by violence in our rich, powerful nation today. A law enforcement officer is less likely to die from gun violence than a child under 10. Nine children and teens die from gun violence every day in our gun saturated nation. Let's care and call for justice for the over 15.5 million poor children, millions living in extreme poverty and with daily food insecurity. It is time for all of us to do better: to reset our nation's moral and economic compass to protect and invest in every child.

Let's pray that we may commit to acting on God's call through the prophet Zechariah "to see that justice is done, to show kindness and mercy to one another, not to oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, who live among you or anyone else in need" by joining together and serving and caring.

I Care And I Am Willing To Serve

Lord I cannot preach like Martin Luther King, Jr.
or turn a poetic phrase like Maya Angelou
but I care and I am willing to serve.

I do not have Harriet Tubman's courage
or Franklin Roosevelt's political skills
but I care and I am willing to serve.

I cannot sing like Fannie Lou Hamer
or organize like Bayard Rustin
but I care and I am willing to serve.

I am not holy like Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
forgiving like Nelson Mandela,
or disciplined like Mahatma Gandhi
but I care and I am willing to serve.

I am not brilliant like Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
or as eloquent as Sojourner Truth and Booker T. Washington
but I care and I am willing to serve.

I have not Mother Teresa's saintliness,
Dorothy Day's love or Cesar Chavez's
gentle tough spirit
but I care and I am willing to serve.

God it is not as easy as it used to be
to frame an issue and to forge a solution
but I care and I am willing to serve.

I can't see or hear well or speak good English,
I stutter sometimes, am afraid of criticism,
and get real scared standing up before others
but I care and I am willing to serve.

I'm so young
nobody will listen
I'm not sure what to say or do
but I care and I am willing to serve.

Use me as Thou will today and tomorrow to help build a nation and world where no child is left behind and everyone feels welcome and justly treated.

 

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Here's what others have said:

Submitted by enkay at: December 19, 2010
I found the column to be more than a little off-putting for its tone of religiosity. I've not seen that before--have I just missed it?--in material from Children's Defense Fund. It doesn't seem to be in the spirit of ecumenism that was hinted at in the first line or two of the column.

Submitted by Anonymous at: December 17, 2010
God is blessing you to continue his work. I was with "a group" that came to Washington, DC under the leadership of Mrs. Elizabeth Coaxum, from Charleston, SC area, maybe twenty (20) years ago. I believe it was a weekend retreat. We engaged in workshops, meeting representatives/senators (Henry Brown), delicious food, workship service,etc. It was and experience I have never forgotten. I was able to use materials I brought back with the children at church. I served as Cradle Roll Leader for three years. It is my desire to send a donation via mail ASAP.