Where does the love go?

Children in the Cayman Islands have been thinking a lot about the December 26th tsunami disaster. Many of them have raised funds to aid the victims. I reported on three school fundraising efforts in recent weeks and I walked away inspired each time. Although steered into the projects by teachers, the students embraced the goal with astonishing sincerity. I know because I spoke with many of the children one-on-one and it was obvious that they were not regurgitating someone else’s words. They care about people on the other side of the world as if they were just down the street.

We, the adults, must ask ourselves what happens to this strong urge to act compassionately when children grow up. Where does the love go?

Why is adulthood an excuse to withdraw behind the walls of color, class, nationality and belief? A child’s kindness travels easily though all barriers that confine the hearts of adults. But love for those outside the clan, tribe or nation seems to grow weaker with age. Perhaps it does not have to be this way. Maybe we can revive this ‘naïve’ propensity for unbound love. Maybe it is not dead but only buried under lies and stupidity. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if adults could reactivate the desire to love all people in all places? Imagine if we confronted geopolitical realities with an immature and irrational determination to just be friends? What if we decided to love others in need, as a child would, regardless of distance or culture? Would it make a mess of things? Maybe, but would anyone really notice? After all, the current grownup way leaves half of humankind hungry at the close of each day. Every 24 hours, 30,000 children die because they are poor and yet this crime never leads the evening news.

Childish thoughts? Yes, that’s the point. Children are better at loving others than most adults are. A child’s grudge against a classmate lasts two days, tops. The grudges of grownups last centuries. Children do not value people according to color, belief and place of birth. They concern themselves with smiles and kindness. As a result, their ability to love is more powerful than prejudice and able to reach beyond borders.

To see children concern themselves with food and medicine for people in trouble thousands of miles away is special and unforgettable. It is the antidote to all those suicide bombers, corporate thieves and political parasites who work so hard to poison our world. The power of a child’s limitless love is the reason no one should ever lose hope for humanity.

World News editor Guy P. Harrison is at [email protected]

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