Saving Everyone’s Baby

Tiny Caylee Anthony is dead, most likely murdered at the tender age of two years.  It appears no one will be convicted of killing her, and yesterday the nation erupted in a self-righteous outrage I haven’t seen since Orenthal J. Simpson was acquitted of killing his wife Nicole.

I’ve come a long way in my thinking about these kinds of cases, about what “justice” has a prayer of meaning, and what the relationship is and is not between what is right and what is legal.  The jury verdict in the case against Caylee’s mother Casey stirred again my own questions about whether or not such a verdict demonstrates the greatness or the abject failures of criminal trial in the United States of America.

But rather than subject readers to what I think about our legal system, I want to issue a challenge to you regarding what I think about justice.

Justice for this child was lost when she died.  No one being convicted of her murder could possibly generate any outcome that would change the terrible, unthinkable death she suffered.  We seem to need to believe that it could, but it cannot.  Caylee is dead, her brief life taken from her in what appears to be a premeditated act of violence capping tremendous resentment by her mother of the attention and care she — as do all children her age — required.

I have strong beliefs about the conditions that should exist before children are brought into this world, and if by some misfortune those conditions are not in place when the child is conceived then we as a society need to step up our game around our commitment to creating the best possible conditions in a bad situation.  I hear too much talk about what parents deserve or don’t deserve, and frankly I don’t give a damn.

When an at-risk child joins the human family, that is everyone’s baby.

That belief is why I am writing this post today.  If we carry on one more day about how outraged and angry we are about the jury verdict, about all the vengeful thoughts we have against Casey Anthony, about how God is going to bring down justice on the killer and on and on and on…………we are part of why this child is gone and we lose one more day to save children like her.  And if you do not know, you need to research and know and understand one thing:  There are thousands of Caylees in this country right now.


We need to turn off Nancy Grace (and the rest of those who profiteer on moral outrage and grief) and turn on our consciences.

What will you do today to honor the life of Caylee Anthony and of every child?

My challenge to all of us who are pained by the loss of this child is to think about what role we each play in making this world a safer, better place for children.

  • Do you speak out when someone makes a joke about hurting a child, or do you stay silent so as not to offend?
  • When you see a parent at the end of his or her rope, do you moralize about what a bad parent he or she is, or do you offer a kind word of support for what they are going through?
  • When you have an extra $15.00, do you buy a bottle of wine, or do you put it aside and make an end-of-year donation of $300 to your local child abuse prevention organization?
  • Are you giving your free time to something truly important to you, like helping a church gather toys or clothing for families in need, or do you do something just for yourself?
  • Do you think sexually active young people should have access to contraception and are you willing to speak out for that, or in your heart do you think they “get what they deserve” if they “get/get someone pregnant”?

Sadly, children often bear the burden of “getting” what their parents deserve.  I’m thinking today about how to turn that around, and to care less about things I can’t control and do more about the things I may be able to influence.

My answers to the above questions, if I am fully honest, do not make me proud.  For the sake of Caylee and every other child on the verge of her fate, I’m thinking today about how to change my answers.

I hope you will join me.

Children of a Lesser god

Everyone knows the film Children of a Lesser god.  Maybe what we don’t know is how badly we need this movie to be remade, and soon.  When it is, I suggest the filmmaker branch out and replace the beautiful, intelligent, heterosexual and yes, deaf, white woman with a new character.  There are many lessers from which to choose.

I didn’t understand the title of this movie in 1986.  (Only just now as I write this post am I aware of the intentional little-g god in the title)  I had not even entered college, much less struck out into the world.  I still didn’t appreciate that, if not in acknowledged polite conversation, in real practice there are categories of human value.  I’ve since come to understand that these very real categories permeate organized society, and they are not just gentle whispers of harmless bias.  These categorizations are deeply rooted, and deep enough to nurture a mindset that separates some people from others as the flawed offspring of a higher power that is — well — not the higher power than made people who are made “the right way.”

In the broadest brush strokes, the Greater God says that men are better than women; whites are better than blacks; strong bodies are better than weak; young is better than old; and so on.  This week we were reminded that this “God” of categorization says that being heterosexual is better than being homosexual.

When one is in the “right” category, he or she enjoys a pre-paid subscription to a life of privilege.  In this life, a protective force field surrounds the person in a cocoon of social safety and opportunity.  The cocoon protects so naturally and so well, the person in it rarely even knows it’s there.  This oblivion partially explains why someone who fits the profile of a Child of a Greater God becomes confused and even angry when the lessers cry out in pain. 

What’s the issue, ask the greaters?  Why do you need special attention?  We’re all children of God………..

When you are a child of a lesser god, you know it.  No reassurances from the cocoon people can help you, because you know they don’t understand, not even a little bit.  Even the well-intentioned greaters are clueless about the realities of your life, about the death by a thousand cuts that threaten you every day.  The lessers are always on the edge, always.

A young man from Rutgers is dead.  He is dead because he had no place to be safe, no refuge, no shelter.  When you are not a child of a Greater God, no one rides in on a chariot of fire to save you.  Your god is tired, and discouraged, and sometimes even hopeless.  On the battlefield of life, you are lucky if your god even shows up.

It is imperative that as a society we do more to understand the subtle and powerful ways we isolate and devalue one another.  My movie remake will star a homosexual girl with autism living below the federal poverty level in Appalachia.

Who will yours star?

Photo credit:  Backyard Butterfly Garden