December 10, 2014 The news can really depress the shit out of you (unless, by “news,” you mean Entertainment Tonight). But there are headlines that soften the global horrors. Reading this morning that Malala and Kailash Satyarthi have been given the Nobel Peace Prize gave me a moment of hope. So that’s where I’m going to live today.
The world is an especially cruel place for children. War, hunger, sex trafficking of minors, child soldiers, infant refugees, the list will shatter your soul. According to UNICEF, 2014 has been one of the worst years on record for children. The images coming out of Syria and Palestine are just a slice of the horror. “Children have been killed while studying in the classroom and while sleeping in their beds,” said Anthony Lake, the executive director of UNICEF. “They have been orphaned, kidnapped, tortured, recruited, raped and even sold as slaves.”
Andrea and I finished watching Long Way Down last night (me for the second time). We love Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s motorcycle rides around the world. We are road trip junkies ourselves (and I have a completely understandable man-crush on Ewan. I just think we should be friends.). There’s a part when they are in Kenya and visit a school that was attacked by guerrilla fighters in 2005. The older children escaped into the bush, but 22 small children who had no idea the evil of man were slaughtered. It was almost unwatchable. McGregor and Boorman serve as ambassadors for UNICEF, so there is value in telling these stories. It’s just a crushing reminder that from Rawanda to Sandy Hook innocent children are randomly used as targets for somebody else’s sociopathy.
These images are so much more meaningful now that I have a child. How can any parent view scenes of children starving and not be moved to action? I was at the Live Aid concert in London in 1985 and it was really great show, feed the world, blah, blah, blah. Bring out Bowie! It was really about a 4 month out girl, just like mine, dying in her mother’s arms. How do we let this happen over and over again?
I think about how my safe my daughter is in comparison to many of her peers. She has food and stable home. She will have access to clean water and an education. There are no bombs coming her way. She will still have to deal the the ugliness of patriarchy. Portland is one of the busiest hubs of sex trafficking in America. But she’ll have choices that girls in India and Thailand won’t. I want her to know about those girls and that their struggle should also be hers.
Malala Yousafzai is a true hero. I’m going to put a picture of her in Cozy’s room today. For simply trying to get an education in Pakistan, she was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban (You want a gang of sexist douchebags, the Taliban are King Bros). Now she is the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. In accepting the award today, she said, “It is for those forgotten children who want education. It is for those frightened children who want peace. It is for those voiceless children who want change.”
Kalish Satyarthi is no slouch either. His work on child labor around the world led to the creation of a labor standard known as Convention 182. It doesn’t end child labor (Wal-Mart would go out of business), but it does help to discourage some of the most abusive practices in the global market. And it should be pointed out child labor typically means girl labor that comes with a wide range of concurrent abuses of females.
So maybe today people will see this story and spend a little more time on it than the “Royals” in New York or Mark Wahlberg’s crusade to clear his own name. Maybe they will think about the children around the world and how it connects to their own parenthood. I don’t know. I just want to have a day to imagine the tide turning.