Our children are crying out

Children’s Defense Fund

Last weekend in Chicago, 12 people were killed and at least 60 others were injured by gun violence. Fourteen of these shooting victims were children and teenagers, the youngest an 11-year-old boy who was shot in the leg. Seventeen-year-old Kenny Ivory was shot and killed on Sunday afternoon while riding his bike a block from his home. Seventeen-year-old Jahnae Patterson died after being shot in the face while standing outside during a nighttime block party. Her mother said Jahnae, the middle child in her family and oldest daughter, wanted to be a lawyer someday. Two more 17-year-olds and a 14-year-old were shot and injured at the same party. Four teenage girls were among the mourners shot after a funeral.

The same weekend, students and families from the high school in Parkland, Florida, where 14 students and three adults were shot and killed on Valentine’s Day led a march at the National Rifle Association’s Northern Virginia headquarters pleading for common sense gun control. Saturday should have been Parkland victim Joaquin Oliver’s 18th birthday. Last year, his family celebrated with a surprise party, just days before the outgoing athlete and sports fan started his senior year. This year his parents sang happy birthday in a crowd carrying signs reading “One Child is Worth More Than All the Guns on Earth” and “Children Over Guns!”

Our children are crying out for adults to protect them, not guns – and our children are dying while powerful lobbies and political leaders refuse to act. I wrote just recently about 10-year-old Makiyah Wilson, shot and killed last month on the doorstep of her Washington, D.C. home on her way to the ice cream truck across the courtyard. When will we do something? When will adults across our nation join every single parent who refuses to bury another child and stand up and say no more?

I offer this prayer for all children, especially those who are victims of war and violence everywhere – including their own homes, front porches and neighborhoods, streets and schools, and their own countries and at the border.

O God of all time

Yesterday, today, tomorrow, and eternity

Give us courage in our lifetimes

To make war on war

Which leaves behind waifs and widows

Rubble of spirit, home, and community.

Mothers, grandmothers, and all with a mothering spirit

Let us declare and demand:

No more war

No more violence and abuse

No more killing of our young

O God of yesterday, today, tomorrow, and eternity

Our dwelling place in all generations

Give us courage to sow seeds of life and hope for the future

And to fight with all our moral might for justice for every child

Help us to pluck the thorns of despair from our children’s lives.

Mothers, grandmothers, and all with a mothering spirit

Let us declare and demand:

No more hunger

No more homelessness

No more poverty

O God of yesterday, every child’s history

O God of today, every living child’s birthright

O God of tomorrow, every child’s inheritance

O God of eternity, every child’s hope

Lift our voices against the spiritual and cultural pollution

which leave dreamless and purposeless the fruit of our wombs.

Mothers, grandmothers, and all with a mothering spirit

Let us stand together and build a world fit for children

Calling all to serve, to care, and to act to leave no child behind.

Marian Wright Edelman is the president of the Children’s Defense Fund. For more information, go to http://www.childrensdefense.org.


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