© John Denney, 20 November 1998
Those of us who are parents will understand the joke that says Madness is hereditary. You inherit it from your children. Having children causes all sorts of problems. Choosing a name for your child is difficult enough. You have to choose a name that will suit them, whatever their path in life. You have to watch out for initials that spell something unfortunate. And there are names that you just cant choose, like Adolf, I suppose.
And it doesnt stop there. Children are a great responsibility. You have to wash them and change them, feed them and nurse them, clothe them and teach them. The one thing you dont have to do as a parent is to love them, because that love comes naturally. Its one of the strongest attachments known to mankind. Parents are willing to sacrifice their own lives to protect their children.
Thats why news reports of the abuse and even the murders of young children cause us such anger. Its a denial of everything that children mean to us, our hopes for the future. Only yesterday there were news reports that a grave had been uncovered in Colombia that contained the bodies of thirteen street children. In that country, it seems, if youre a child whos so poor that you havent got a roof over your head, then thats enough to make you a murder target for vigilante gangs.
That sort of cruelty is so unnatural that we are appalled and angered by it. But here in Leicester and Leicestershire there are children who have to roam the cold streets after school until a parent comes home and lets them in. There are children who are inadequately fed, who miss out on things like learning to play a musical instrument, or school trips abroad, even proper places to play in safety. Its often not the fault of the parents, who sacrifice their own well-being to provide the basics for their children. But if youre bringing up a family on your own with only state benefits to sustain you, life is one long uphill struggle.
Its Children in Need day today, which aims to provide things for children who genuinely need them. Lets give generously. Its what God wants. Jesus had a special place in his heart for children. Bring the little children to Me, He said, For to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.
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