Saturday, November 26, 2011

Our National Treasure: Children, Detroit, and Dickens

"Our children are our future"--our most precious national resource. So it is written--but why then, do we treat them so badly!? In every village, in each city, in all countries, the children are magical little us -es. Why do they get such short shrift?
Through a very ingenious, Mystical, fabulously bizzare design, we get together with our two invisible cells and a little us appears! Strange and I wonder who first figured that one out...
In the field of working with abused children, our heads are constantly exploding. We are unable to fathom the desire, let alone the ability some have to deliberately hurt children--physically and psychologically.
I onced worked
 on a project in Florida involving "crack babies"--infants born with addiction to cocaine, due to mommies' inability to shake the habit during pregnancy. (The babies must be held with as little touching as possible, facing away from the caregiver, in order to lessen the stimulus to the child, which is painful.) This example of child abuse shows the range/layers of problems- personal, family, community, and country--that can be involved.
Then there is the pure evil of deliberate abuse. And the selfish desires that lead to neglect. And the national priorities that leave children with table scraps.
You don't need to hear me whine. (Or if you do, i will put some links at the bottom of the post.:-)
I saw a PBS newhour clip about the detroit schools last night.
it struck me, how embarrassing and insane it is that we have stunning new stadiums in our cities, and Exquisite Performing Arts Centers, and new computers every year in our universities--but cannot take our tiny little offspring and give them all they need.
Good Classrooms. Good teachers. Safe places to be. Free parenting classes. Before the fact!

So, in the Kansas City Star today is a book review i want to share (Andrea Warren's Charles Dickens and the Street Children of London). I had a phase, recently, of reading Charles Dickens. He was a child with a very very hard childhood, but was moved by pity by the children who were even worse off than he.
 excerpt from E M Eveld's story in
"A Local Author Salutes Dickens"--
[quoting Warren: ] “It was a cold, blustery London day, but I bundled up and went, and I’m glad I did,” she said. “In nearly every sentence the guide mentioned the name of Charles Dickens. I have a master’s degree in British literature, so I thought I knew something about Dickens.
When I asked about that, she said, ‘Well, you know he’s our greatest reformer. He changed everything for the poor.’ ”
The guide didn’t say greatest writer or novelist. She said reformer. It was Dickens’ choice to write about England’s abandoned children, its debtors’ prisons and workhouses, its pollution and slums. And it was his writing that fueled reforms when few at the height of industrialization seemed to care, Warren said.
Warren learned that while Dickens wasn’t born into society’s lowest classes, his family was plunged there by his father’s indebtedness. When Dickens’ father was sent to debtors’ prison, the family became homeless and finally went to live with him at the prison — except for Dickens. At age 12, he was sent to work 10 hours a day, six days a week at a bootblack factory and to live in a run-down boarding house.
“Walking about the city, when he detoured down narrow, twisty streets where the poor lived, he came face-to-face with London’s underworld,” Warren writes about the young Dickens. “The filth and odors of the slums were overwhelming. Wherever he turned, he saw painfully thin children dressed in rags, with hopeless eyes.
“Though despairing of his own situation, he was moved by what he saw and wondered why no one helped the children.... “Whenever he’s writing about the street children, air pollution, foul water, he never lets the reader off the hook,” she said. “Children suffer in his books. His writing is very powerful.
“And reforms followed. When he wrote about the national disgrace of the abuses at the Yorkshire boarding schools in ‘Nicholas Nickleby,’ within a year of publication they were closed.”
...Warren hopes that besides a renewed appreciation for Dickens, young readers will be inspired to use their talents to help others and will recognize that today’s street children are in poorer countries around the globe — some 100 million homeless children. Warren devotes the last section of the book to their plight.
“People who travel in Africa, in Central and South America and Asia, usually aren’t ready for what greets them there, hordes of homeless children,” Warren said. “These are not problems of the past.”
read the entire story and more HERE

I admire the filthy rich who know you can't take it with you,
and spend their wealth on the chillin's. like, oprah, and  bill gates, --
and  Charity Watch also rates/lists top notch charities that get A ratings in directly helping children and families, like Children's Defense Fund and  catholic charities,  and  (surprise) salvation army
 and what better to spend it on than our "national treasure"?

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