Sunday, March 16, 2008

Children . . .

I'm starting with a prayer for all the children:

O God! Educate these children. These children are the plants of Thine orchard, the flowers of Thy meadow, the roses of Thy garden. Let Thy rain fall upon them; let the Sun of Reality shine upon them with Thy love. Let Thy breeze refresh them in order that they may be trained, grow and develop, and appear in the utmost beauty. Thou art the Giver. Thou art the Compassionate.

- 'Abdu'l-Bahá

(Compilations, Baha'i Prayers, p. 32)

The best of people live according to this:

7:9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 7:10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 7:11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

(King James Bible, Matthew)

Yet, there is no dearth of folk who oppress children:

When I was seven we lived in Tihran, where my father was Mirza'Abdu'r-Rahim Khan the Kalantar (Mayor). A mulla taught us children in school. We sat in a row on the floor, each with his book before him on a bookstand. We read the Qur'án without knowing what it meant, and Sa'di, and Hafiz. The mulla had a long, slim, flexible pole (falak); whenever he thought best, a child's feet would be strung to it by a rope; each end of the pole was held by boys who twisted it so the feet were held fast, soles up; the mulla himself did the whipping, beating the soles of the victim with his club (chub) till, sometimes, the blood came. This was the bastinado. The children were terrified of it; panic made me study extra hard.

(Marzieh Gail, Dawn Over Mount Hira, p. 194)

And, governments are also culpable:

In South Africa, for example, Hlengiwe Mkhize, Director of the Children in Violence Project at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, cited evidence from her country that reveals a clear link between state-initiated oppression and domestic violence. The family unit, she said, becomes the focus of accumulated stress and a fertile ground for multiple acts of domestic violence from family torture and murder, to wife battering, sexual molestation, and the daily mental and physical abuse suffered by children growing up in alcoholic and violent families.

(Baha'i International Community, 1994 May 26, Creating Violence-Free Families)

Oh, Dear God ! Protect Our Children . . .

Question. -- What is the condition of children who die before attaining the age of discretion or before the appointed time of birth?

Answer. -- These infants are under the shadow of the favor of God; and as they have not committed any sin and are not soiled with the impurities of the world of nature, they are the centers of the manifestation of bounty, and the Eye of Compassion will be turned upon them.

('Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 240)