The French are fond of saying, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." Nearly 2000 years ago, the outraged Herod summarily ordered the execution of all two-year old male children in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16). The daughters of Rachel wept for their children "because they were no more." This past week, cries of anguish were again heard, this time in Nigeria. It was the wailing of the mothers of 247 girls kidnapped and destined to be sold into slavery by the Boko Haram.
Closer to home, on a daily basis, mothers in our urban areas watch helplessly as their children become victims of gun violence. On Good Friday, more than 80 of us walked the streets of Jersey City in an urban version of Stations of the Cross. At each of the stations, we solemnly read the name of a child who had been either killed or wounded within that five-block radius. The Daughters of Rachel weep for their children.
Around the world, cultures of violence threaten the well-being of our children. Whether the source of the violence can be traced to religious differences, racial hatred, or crime, this Mother’s Day, apart from reminding us of the special place that mothers hold in our hearts, should also serve as a wake-up call that we must address the root causes of violence against our children in our society.
The entertainment industry continues to make millions through its glorification of violence in movies, television and video games. This seeming condoning of violence had led to increased violent behavior among young people, including bullying in our schools. What are your children watching on the screen?
A recent report highlighted the rising instances of domestic violence in our country, citing in part the failure of the justice system to not only monitor and intervene effectively in troubled households, but to also pass laws that can protect victims from repeated acts of violence. Far too often, our children are among those innocent victims. What is your community doing to deal effectively with domestic violence?
The flow of guns into our communities, and especially into the hands of our children, continues virtually unchecked. Children increasingly are not only the victims of gun violence, they are also its perpetrators. How are we holding local officials accountable? How are our communities teaching our young children to reject this culture of violence?
As Christians, we are not only called upon to deplore violence, but to affirmatively take steps in our communities to point out, speak out, and act out against this culture of violence that endangers our children. Make no mistake. There is no community in our country that is wholly immune from violence. It touches all our lives.
So pray today not only in thanksgiving for our mothers, but also for greater awareness and resolve among ourselves to save our children, the innocent victims of a culture of violence that we can no longer ignore.