We should be concerned with how the children are doing
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.