Social Justice for Children & A Call to Shine On
Written by Robyn O’Brien
As the country watches in horrified disbelief as the allegations unfold around Penn State’s football program, it is all too easy to become incredibly disillusioned as it appears that one institution after another continues to fail our children, placing their reputation, brands and shareholder value over the welfare of our youth.
For some of us, our first awareness of this type of exploitation came in the form of tobacco companies promoting their products to young people. For others, we have learned of it as these same tactics are used by the food companies to drive demand for their artificial and processed foods. For others, it is the awareness that the agricultural chemical companies are now engineering their products into our foods in order to drive profitability for their product lines without having conducted any longitudinal studies. And still for others, it is the realization that some of our youth who have joined the military, often selected from and the rural and rust-belt areas that are struggling, return home, after giving themselves in service to our country, to face unemployment numbers between 30 and 48 percent.
Learning this information is not something anyone wants to know. But it is also something that we can not unlearn, especially as these abuses of power continue to occur. We can not shake the horrific image of that child standing in the shower as he was abused. Nor can we erase the death of young girls who were electrocuted while working in cornfields for agricultural chemical companies or those of balding children whose bodies are riddled with cancer. The images are terrifying, but equally so are the realizations that for some companies, for some institutions, “It is better to protect “the brand” than it is to protect free speech, the right to privacy, or even to protect children.”
But these abuses are also a call to action. And if ever there were a time for this call to protect the health of our children, that time is now. There are entire institutions and systems that are failing our youth, and an ever-growing need to create new systems based on transparency and accountability in order to manifest the change we want to see in the world. The opportunity before us is enormous.
And while none of us can do everything, all of us can do something. And parents have the remarkable power to affect extraordinary change in any and all of these systems because we are motivated by love. That love can serve as a rocket fuel, as it is more powerful than even the strongest greed.
So with that in mind, consider the following words from Clarissa Pinkola Estes:
In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unamended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency too to fall into being weakened by persevering on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind, without raising the sails.
One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times.
And as these stories continue to unfold, we should keep these words close at hand, so that we will, for the sake of our children, shine on.