Tuesday, December 21, 2004


It is appropriate at Christmastime to focus on children. Unfortunately, many children in the World are in very desperate straits:
Globally, an estimated 12 million children under the age of five die every year, mostly of easily preventable causes.
Some 130 million children in developing countries are not in primary school and the majority of them are girls.
About 160 million children are severely or moderately malnourished.
Some 1.4 billion people lack access to safe water and 2.7 billion lack adequate sanitation.
Some States are moving toward increasingly punitive systems of juvenile justice, with children beaten and arbitrarily detained by police and forced to share prisons with adults in inhumane conditions.
Many unwanted children languish in orphanages and other institutions, denied education and adequate health care. These children are often physically abused.
An estimated 250 million children are engaged in some form of labour. There are few examples of systematic actions to end child exploitation that are sensitive to children's needs.
Armed conflicts around the globe continue to shorten and ruin the lives of millions of children. Last year, about 300,000 children served as soldiers in national armies. Many of these children were killed or maimed in combat; and many children were forced to kill and maim others.

One of the ultimate ironies of the early 21st Century is that the United States of America, ostensibly the leader in civilization HAS NOT RATIFIED THE CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD. We share this distinction with only one other country, that paragon of human rights, Somalia. This Convention has had a major impact on the welfare of children in the last 10 years.
More progress was made in realizing and protecting children's rights in the decade following adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child than in any other comparable period in human history and children's rights are now higher on public and political agendas than ever before. Gains in democratic governance and rising respect for human rights in many countries have contributed to this progress.

It appears that our President is more interested in aggregates of 8-16 human cells than he is in real children. As we have pointed out in this column before, he also doesn't seem to feel that killing children is any big deal either. In spite of George W. Bush's protestations to the contrary, e.g. that he is a Christian, his actions declare him to be indifferent to the plight of so many millions of the world's most vulnerable citizens. They also point out that all the blather about values that he and Rasputin spew out is just that; hypocrisy in the service of politics. God save us from these people.

I am now beyond mad at this situation. Getting upset about it does nothing but clip terminal residues off my teleomeres (i.e. accelerate my aging). While I have little time left on the planet, I still want to feel that I am doing something for all these children. What to do is the question. I need to think long and hard about it.

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