Children are Everyone’s Responsibility
A Poem by Jessica Tietjen
My children belong to both me and you
And your children belong to both you and me.
You see, I truly believe
Children are everyone’s responsibility.
They come to this earth filled with pure love.
A gift from our God from up above.
Then as they grow, they learn
The lessons of life, many which burn.
Lessons of loneliness, inadequacy, and blame.
Lessons of failure, judgement, and disdain.
Lessons of rejection, not belonging, and pain.
Lessons of hurt, heartbreak and shame.
These lessons learned over time.
Little by little lead to the greatest crime.
Each one creating barriers to the love inside.
And blocking all the love on the outside.
Disconnected from the love they need,
They slowly begin to bleed.
To bleed the love with which they were born.
Love once lost, they will mourn.
They will begin to mourn all they have lost,
And all this lost love has cost.
Until one day they will finally have forgot,
And the hurt and pain will become a lot.
Overwhelming darkness will descend,
Making them feel like this is the end.
And in this desperate dark despair,
They will hurt anyone, anywhere.
They’ll hurt both friends and enemies.
They’ll hurt strangers and their families.
They’ll hurt those whom they once loved and those they hate.
They’ll hurt almost anyone so their pain will abate.
These children they belong to us all.
We’re all responsible for their fall.
Their fall from losing the love with which they arrived.
A love that should have helped them survive and thrive.
Which means we all bear some responsibility for their demise.
For those they’ve hurt and those who’ve died.
For the pain they’ve caused and what is lost.
For the love they lost and what it cost.
Everyone is so very quick to blame.
Their anger needing some source to ease their pain.
But what hurts the most is the shame.
Our shame that we have failed to do our part.
That we’ve not protected children from the start.
If change is what we truly want and need,
Then this lesson we must heed:
Instead of blame we must show love.
Instead of shame we must show love.
Instead of anger we must show love.
Instead of causing more hurt and pain,
We must show how love heals and reclaims.
Reclaiming a world of love not hate.
A world with love opens the gate.
The more love we feel inside,
The more love we see outside.
Then there is no more pain to hide.
Instead, we get to enjoy the ride.
The beautiful ride and our life’s journey.
A journey filled with love as it was meant to be.
The United States of America gets an F for failing to protect children
Along with every other living, breathing human on earth my heart broke when I saw the news alert pop up on Tuesday. I don’t even have to say what news alert because every person knows which story this week broke our hearts. The story of another school shooting at an elementary school killing far too many children once again.
I was traveling home from a two-week vacation with my three children (twin 2-year-old girls and a 6-year-old boy). As I watched my kids play in the airport and on the plane, I thought about the parents who had just lost their children. I thought about sending my son to 1st grade next year, to the elementary school. I thought about the insanity of that milestone increasing his risk of death by school shooting.
Like everyone else my mind went to the “Why?” “How could this happen?” “How do we stop this?” I felt the anger, sadness, outrage, and rage all come through my being in an almost visceral response. I too wanted to find someone or something to blame. Something we could change so that I could ensure my children would be protected.
Almost immediately, you could see all the same arguments and all the same debates begin over gun control and mental health. But I wanted to go deeper than those surface level, highly politicized discussions of cause and effect. I wanted to look beyond the single tragedy to the cause of the many and increasing tragedies involving children.
The school shootings.
The drug addictions.
The rates of depression and anxiety.
The violence and anger.
The vicious bullying.
What I discovered as I dove deep inside beyond the anger and blame was a deep sense of responsibility and need for more of it. If we are to truly protect our children, we must ALL be responsible for ALL children. And if this is the case, then we are ALL responsible for those children losing their lives, for ALL children losing their lives.
If WE are responsible, then do WE see the current results as acceptable? as reasonable? as something we are willing to continue living with?
I watch the news alerts day after day after day — about child after child after child who has been shot, killed, hurt, and harmed.
We ARE NOT doing good enough…we are FAILING with a grade below F!
Ironically, I believe our achievement-based society is in large part the cause. And yet, we seem to not care that we are failing at such a critical responsibility we hold as a society.
Can we even be considered a society if we cannot protect our children from such violence, hurt, and pain?
These children who kill themselves or other children, they were not born this way. They were born with love inside and it is this world that stripped it away.
This world that prioritizes achievement over existence, beauty over kindness, doing over being, accomplishments over the person inside. And in so doing, we prioritize that which causes the harm we see on the outside.
For when a child falls short of the expected achievements, beauty, results, accomplishments, and successes they are deemed failures, inadequate, and not good enough. The child is left always struggling, failing, and never really measuring up. Even those with long lists of successes struggle to meet these expectations. But this perception of not good enough is not true. Instead, the metrics with which we measure them are broken.
A human’s value is not based upon its achievements, beauty, results, accomplishments, successes or any other acquirable thing.
We are born with value.
We are born with love.
We are born with beauty and opportunity and so much more.
We must stop prioritizing metrics and measures that do more harm than good. We must value human beings for just being and not for what they do or accomplish. We must do this to show our children the way.
If we truly want to relieve our pain, our anger, our outrage, we must take full responsibility and accountability to bring change. To bring change to everything in our culture that perpetuates the fallacies that create these results in our society.
I wrote the poem above on the airplane that day. I wanted to recognize and memorialize the message I received that day. Until we as a society have the COURAGE to take full responsibility and be willing to do whatever it takes to bring about change…none will come.
Until politicians have the courage to risk their political careers…
Until the NRA has the courage to give up money $$$ for lives…
Until gunowners (I am one) have the courage to accept gun restrictions…
Until sellers have the courage to accept greater responsibility for their sales…
Until schools have the courage to address mental health starting in pre-school…
Until everyone has the courage to recognize we need change now…
We must evolve our families, communities, and workplaces. We must shift how we live, what we prioritize, and how we raise our children. For, until we do, we will continue getting an F for society’s ability to protect children on the United States of America’s report card.