What is a Child?
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What is a Child? • Posted: Jul 17, 2014 17:17:54Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

Children are sometimes the very embodiment of joy. We can't prevent ourselves from smiling at their delight. And yet, at other times, their behavior can cause us horrendous distress. Total disengagement is not an option for most of us. Our attention is drawn and we get involved. Simple as that. But why? What is a child to us, especially someone else's child?

Functionally, children are our replacements. They are us reborn, with new opportunities, renewed energies, a fresh point of view, and maybe even better health and superior talents. But all that is dependent, dependent upon the quality of relationship we have with the child. No matter what the genes, children do not turn out to be healthy, caring, contributive citizens without the benefit of healthy nurturant relationships throughout their childhood. In fact, that's what's so half baked about the anti-abortion crowd. A child has no chance at all of finding life satisfaction without the developmental benefits of parents, teachers, friends, neighbors, and community who all see the potential within and are willing to help bring that potential to full bloom. Without all that, a child is debatably better off never having been born. And arguably, society would be better off too, without the drag on resources of policing, jailing, remediating and/or trying to treat the resultant malformed maladapted child become adult.

No, it isn't just a case of a child and his or her opportunity for life. It is also a case of societal health. As within our own bodies, cells live out their lives and eventually need replacement. Replace them with malformed malfunctioning cells, and we have what? A diseased body, cancer perhaps. Same thing with society. Replace contributing citizens with ones that contribute less or not at all, but instead drain the system of resources, and we have a society that is diseased, leadened, unable to right itself and move on. Not good. Not good at all, for anyone.

The notion of family planning is likely as old as knowledge that sex can result in pregnancy. And ever since then pregnancies have either been encouraged or discouraged according to personal, community, religious, and political agendas. Rape has been used as a weapon of war. Curses have been uttered and carried out against children. Children have been offered in sacrifice for favor. Nations have been united over mutual hope embodied in the child of a mixed union. Christianity itself centers its attention on the birth and death of a child. The symbolic importance of children within a culture is a measure of how that society regards and values life itself. The greater the affection for children, the more fragile and valuable life is perceived to be. The more callus the treatment of children, the more life in all its forms is disdained.

The decision when and with whom to have children, if considered at all, is never easy, for all the practical and symbolic baggage it carries. What can make that decision easier is thinking about the quality of relationships the imagined child will be born into, because those relationships will determine not only what kind of life that child will have, but what kind of citizen they will become, and consequently, what kind of future our species will have.

Praise forever, the beautiful beautiful child, and all the nurturing relationships that make him or her so.

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
64 mm 173 mm
1/250 sec
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