Soaring Above the Challenges of Life

If You Want to Change the World, Love a Child

At the United Nations World Summit on Children, the ‘UN Convention of the Rights of the Child’ was created.  This treatise, signed by all U.N. member countries, protects children’s dignity as well as their moral, social, legal and cultural rights. Of the most basic rights included in the Charter, one interesting and thought provoking point is addressed: the child’s right “to be loved”.

Who is responsible to fulfill such an obligation? Is it a duty to fall only on biological parents, the government or the school system? Who is ultimately responsible to provide a child with needed emotional support and care?

Love is not a commodity, like rice or sugar, which can be mass marketed. It must be nurtured individually and passed on personally. In all our striving to provide superior education, health care and environment, let us not forget the most basic human need of all, the care and concern of another human heart. The power of love to heal is unparalleled. Opportunities to give that love abound.  What lies within our grasp is the chance to change the world, by changing the life of a child through love.

What difference will loving one child make? Such a question reminds us of the classic story by Loren Eisley, about the man, the boy and the starfish. After a fierce stormy night, the sea had washed thousands and thousands of starfish onto the inhospitable shore. As the morning sun arose high in the sky, a man walked along the coast and observed the situation, pitying the ill-fated creatures who would not survive for long out of the sea. He then noticed a small boy, diligently picking up the starfish nearest him and flinging them back into the surf.  Again and again the child repeated his efforts, tossing one starfish after another into the waves.

Approaching the child, the man shook his head , pointed to the desolate beach that was covered for miles with stranded starfish, and remarked that the boy’s efforts wouldn’t make any difference at all. Without pausing, the child bent down, picked up another starfish, and flung it as far as he could out into the sea.  The boy looked up at the man and wisely noted, “It sure made a difference to that one, didn’t it?”

Jeanne Riether and Hugues de Gaalon

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