We should be con­cerned with how the chil­dren are do­ing

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

The Ma­sai peo­ple live in south­ern Kenya and north­ern Tan­za­nia. In for­mer times, Ma­sai war­riors were con­sid­ered sec­ond to none in their fear­less­ness and in­tel­li­gence. Yet th­ese for­mi­da­ble war­riors greeted one an­other with a cu­ri­ous phrase. “Kasse­rian in­gera,” one would al­ways say to an­other. This means “And how are the chil­dren?”

The an­swer to this greet­ing was, “All the chil­dren are well.” Even war­riors with no chil­dren of their own would par­tic­i­pate in th­ese ex­changes. This cus­tom bore wit­ness to the high value the Ma­sai placed on the well be­ing of the chil­dren among them. “All the chil­dren are well” meant that safety and peace pre­vailed, that the Ma­sai had not for­got­ten their re­spon­si­bil­ity to the youngest members of their so­ci­ety.

To this day, “Kasse­rian in­gera” re­mains the tra­di­tional greet­ing among the Ma­sai peo­ple. What if we in our great coun­try would take to greet­ing each other in this way: “And how are the chil­dren?” Per­haps if we heard that ques­tion and spoke it sev­eral times a day, we would de­velop a new at­ti­tude as a na­tion to­ward how we view and treat the youngest peo­ple among us.

What if all of us adults were to ex­change this greet­ing — par­ents and grand­par­ents, peo­ple with chil­dren and those with­out, teach­ers and farm­ers, con­struc­tion work­ers and busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives and re­tired folks?

What if the pres­i­dent of the United States, at ev­ery press con­fer­ence, at ev­ery pub­lic ap­pear­ance, were asked the ques­tion, “Mr./Ms. Pres­i­dent, how are the chil­dren?”

The wel­fare of the youngest among us leaves much to be de­sired. Our so­ci­ety ex­cels in mat­ters of tech­nol­ogy, wealth, and power. Yet this is a na­tion where some chil­dren go hun­gry, some re­ceive an in­ad­e­quate ed­u­ca­tion, some are ne­glected, some end up in pri­son, some die of gun­shot wounds.

We can­not be a truly great na­tion un­til the day comes when any­one can hear that ques­tion, “And how are the chil­dren?” and re­spond with the words, “All the chil­dren are well” and know deep down that this is the truth.

The Rev. Charles Hof­facker, Brandy­wine

The writer is the rec­tor of St. Paul’s Epis­co­pal Parish in Baden.

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