On 6/10/01 I wrote the poem below in memory of one of our children, Walter Contreras Valenzuela, Morristown, NJ. He was a young boy who was murdered in my town. I put a link in my last post “What Stands Are You Taking?” to this poem for those interested in reading it. The morning after I posted it I was watching the news in horror as I saw the story of a young girl from FL named Somer Thompson whose body was found in a land fill. For me it was a chilling coincidence.
Lisa Cohen, a journalist who spent the last 20 years researching a missing child named Etan Pates, wrote an excellent article titled “A Plea for Somers Family and Some Shared Humanity“. She passes along some of what she learned from her research. She also talks about the very human, yet extraordinarily damaging, tendency to blame the victim and, in cases like these, the parents for not protecting their child.
While that may be a defense mechanism I think it also points to a belief that somehow makes all of our children less safe. The right to raise our children the way we see fit seems to have devolved into a belief that parents are solely responsible for the welfare of their own children.
Tragedies of this kind have a way of reminding us that the safety of all of our children is up to all of us.
I share this poem as a separate post in memory of Somer, Walter, Etan and any child who has been harmed.
What will it take for us to remember each and every day…
Every Child is Our Child
It is often when a life ends
That we pause to remind ourselves
Just how miraculous and precious life is.
And when it is a child that breathes his last breath,
We incur a wound that is beyond repair
In our hearts, in our souls and in our world.
For it is our children that bind us together in the fabric of life.
It is our children who remind us of our innocence, our dreams
and of all that is good within us as human beings.
For in their tiny hands and hearts
We place the hopes for our future.
And when any one of us forgets that every child matters,
When any child is forgotten or harmed,
We cause the fabric of life to weaken.
For every child is our child,
We must treasure each one,
As if they were born unto us.
For the future will spring from their hopes and their fears,
And the dreams that they someday make real.
I don’t know how to invent a world
In which every child is truly our child.
But I do know our very life depends on it.
We must find a way together.
For in the eyes of our children our differences make no difference,
Until one day they forget.
When will we teach them to not forget?
Or perhaps when will we remember?
Every child is our child.