Empathy Resides in Shared Personhood

I woke up this morning remembering a tall, beautiful, talented, bright young woman whose life connected to our streets ended in violence and her death.

As I reflected, I was reminded of the statement made by a young man many years ago. He walked into our space on a certain day with a newspaper clipping about a young person who had died on our streets the day before. His tears were profound support to his statement: “People don’t realize that any day when we are on the street we could end up dead. …  How can people not understand how wrong it is that children and young people are living on the streets?”

With new awareness this month we are witnessing the role of a society and adult choices that impact significantly on the lives and well being of our most vulnerable citizens, our children. Since forever, the humanity of adults caring for children has demonstrated gaps in the consistency needed to fully pay attention to nurturing children and keeping them safe.

Endless documentation exists in the stories of children of ways adults negatively impact their well being, both acts of commission and omission.  Books are seldom written to document this tragedy. We learn it in the oral culture of the process of assuming responsibility for children and youth for whom our care has not been sufficient.

Systems do their best to deliver what they believe to be helpful but in the end not all children are benefited from the structures of ‘help’ that exist.

We are currently witnessing an entire country reeling at the choices being made by leadership as violence to children. How is this possible in an enlightened and democratic society?  Are we able to use those definitions with credibility? Political advantage is not by definition included in the essence of democracy.

How can a society care for our children without foundational commitment to them as persons? The gap is already coming full circle in the youth sector when major strategies and programming for children and youth are facilitated and funded by the databases of the descriptions and labels assigned to them by society. Empathy resides in shared personhood. Data removes this critical piece.

We are saddened and outraged by this current 2018 strategy being played out. Yet the decades go by with no significant changes in existing measures to address our responsibility to ALL children as adults and as a society as a whole.

Does this sound like a broken record?    It is.      It is broken.

Who will accept the challenge of our individual power of choice to make a difference by paying attention and giving respect to our young people whom we know, meet, and notice on the edges of our organized and potentially helpful society?

M.D

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