The bullying, uncontrollable tempers and disrespect for others in our school playgrounds mirror the troubles in our neighborhoods and our nation. Whereas previous generations were more likely to protect children from “adult” discussions and problems until a certain age, now we use children as pawns in our own battles.
Our missionary speaker informed us last Sunday about the “Sunflower Children” in Ethiopia – young girls purchased cheaply from their families by farmers to run up and down rows of sunflowers and substitute for pollinating bees, until the girls outgrow their usefulness at age 13 when they are discarded. Taliban leaders recently announced that in protest of US drone strikes, no more children will be vaccinated against polio. One prominent ethicist wondered, “Where is the outrage?”
Elijah passed his mission and his mantle to the younger Elisha , whom he had mentored and prepared to assume the difficulties of leadership of the Israelites. All young people, especially men, need an Elijah to help form them in fortitude, right reason and protective compassion for their loved ones and strangers alike. First the mantle protects and then it empowers.
Every child deserves a childhood. Whenever company was visiting and I heard my grandmother proclaim, like a truce, “little pitchers have big ears,” it annoyed me because I knew I was going to miss some glorious grown up gossip or be excluded from some vociferous argument. Now that I understand what she was doing, I love her all the more.