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AND SO, HOW ARE THE CHILDREN?
Among the most accomplished and fabled tribes of Africa, no tribe is considered to have warriors more fearsome or more intelligent than the mighty Masai. It is perhaps surprising, then, to learn the traditional greeting that passes between Masai warriors. "Kasserian Ingera," one always says to another. It means, "How are the children?"
This traditional greeting among the Masai acknowledges the high value that the Masai always place on their children's well-being. Even warriors with no children of their own always give the traditional answer: "All the children are well," meaning, of course, that peace and safety prevail, that the priorities of protecting the young, the powerless, are in place, that Masai society has not forgotten its reason for being, its proper functions and responsibilities. "All the children are well" means that life is good. It means that the daily struggles of existence do not preclude proper caring for the young.
I wonder how it might affect our consciousness of our own children's welfare if, in our culture, we took to greeting each other with this daily question: "And how are the children?" I wonder if we heard that question and passed it along to each other a dozen times a day, would it begin to make a difference in the reality of how children are thought of and cared for in our own country?
I wonder, if every adult among us, parent and non-parent alike, felt an equal weight for the daily care and protection of all the children in our community, in our town, in our state, in our country, could we truly say without any hesitation, "The children are well; yes, all the children are well."
What would it be like if religious leaders
began every worship service by answering the question, "And how are the
children?" If teachers began every class by answering the question, "And how
are the children?" If every town leader had to answer the same question at
the beginning of every meeting: "And how are the children?" If every
business leader and corporate executive had to answer the same question at
the beginning of every work day: "And how are the children? Are they well?"
wouldn't it be interesting to hear their answers? What would it be like? I
wonder... I wonder...
The story goes that among the East African
Maasai people the traditional greeting is not "How are
you?" but rather, "So! How are the children?"
The Maasai believe that if the children are well, safety and peace
will prevail for all.
We would do well to learn from the Maasai. Greeting one
another by first asking about children could help remind
us what is required to build an authentic community
where the responsibility to care for all the children is
a top priority of all. Maybe we would begin living our
lives in a way that demonstrates care for all children
if we knew that we had to answer for their welfare every
time we greeted someone.
Youth need to develop a wide range of positive life skills and pro-social behaviors in order to make healthy choices and avoid the harmful use of alcohol, tobacco, drugs violence and gangs. All segments of the community must work together - families, neighbors, schools, youth organizations, businesses, employers, local governments, law enforcement, religious groups, congregations and residents - to meet the challenge of raising healthy children. As Peter Benson puts it in the book, All Kids are Our Kids, "The measure of the health of a society is how well it takes care of its youngest generation. By this standard, we fail."
To spread the word that the health of our children is of vital importance to the whole community. The National Consulting Solutions Inc. (CSI) has been participating in a growing national movement by using "So! How are the Children?" as an allegory for child advocacy. If you are concerned about the future of our children join us in this campaign by wearing a "So? How are the children?" pin and adopting this greeting. To find out more about this campaign and how you can receive pins for yourself or your group simply call BRiDGES at (315) 697-3947 and ask:
"So? How are the children?"
Thus, It takes a whole Village to Raise a Child
Using the Maasai greeting as an allegory for child advocacy originated with Rev. Patrick T. O'Neil in a sermon delivered at the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church, Framingham Mass. in 1991. Rev. O'Neill, happened to meet an African foreign exchange student who told him about the Maasai people who live in and around the Great Rift Valley. The Maasai are a semi-nomadic pastoral people who value their cattle and their children above all else. This is reflected in the traditional Maasai greeting, a complex ritualistic interchange that includes each asking the other, "How are the cattle?" followed by, "And how are the children?" Inspired by the Maasai regard for children, Rev. O'Neill turned the greeting into an allegory for child advocacy in the sermon, "And How are the Children." The allegory eventually found its way into a publication of the Children's Defense Fund that promotes their "Leave No Child Behind" campaign. See Shannon Daley-Harns, Joining Hearts, Hands and Voices to Leave No Child Behind (Wash., DC: Children's Defense Fund, 2000) pg. 114. Two years ago the "Stand for Children - Minneapolis Group" adopted "So? How are the Children?" as a unifying message for its child advocacy work; and "Congregations Concerned for Children," a Minnesota based child advocacy network, is currently using the allegory in its 2001 legislative campaign. It is through the efforts of these two groups that the allegory is now emerging as a unifying message for a national child advocacy movement.
I submit to you that the Children are not well!!
They are homeless
Involve with gangs
Using and selling Drugs
Not listening or respecting their parents
Being sexually assaulted
Being left home alone
Forced to sell their body
Bullying other kids
Listening to bad music and watching bad TV shows
Raised by teenage parents
Young men are wearing their paints too low
Young girls are wearing their skirts to high
Kids are failing in school (Jr. and Sr. High) having zero credits and still being passed on
Kids are dropping out of school daily
and the song played on.......
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Last modified: 12/17/11