There really is no reason why society could not provide for, care for and value all children, but capitalist society doesn’t.One thing I am certain of is that I would give my life for my children, such is the power of my feelings for them. I did not take to the nappy changing or the enforced insomnia and as they grew older I resigned myself to the fact that during their teens I was embarrassment personified to them; so much so that I had to drop them a few hundred yards from the school gates in case 'someone might think they knew me'. I tried to explain that for the past fourteen years their mother had led me to believe that I was their father, particularly in financial matters, so it was not unreasonable to conclude that I did know them. They have now reached their twenties and, it would be fair to say, have come a full circle and I don't think I would be unduly flattering myself if I say that they are slightly proud of me.
Given the bond between parents and their children why is it, then, that those who have power and control over our society fail to comprehend that the untold damage wrought on our fragile environment will be there as a legacy for their own children as well as ours? Does it not strike them as disturbing that their children are likely to witness irreversible and escalating environmental catastrophes, possibly beyond our imagination?
Even if we give the politicians, the huge corporations and those whose decisions so directly and terrifyingly affect the rest of society, the benefit of the doubt and assume that they genuinely believe that the way we currently order our world society might, eventually, prove capable of solving the manifestly awful aspects of this arrangement, surely they must now be questioning the very safety of their children, when scientists of all disciplines are talking in tens of years when describing the time we have before our seas become too acid to support life, our primary forests disappear along with countless species, glaciers retreat or disappear causing massive water shortages and temperatures rise to levels that would prevent successful pollination of rice, one of the world's staple food crops.
But then why should I feel surprised? After all, this is a society that allows innocent children to die in their thousands every day; If not by allowing them to slowly starve to death or die of easily cured diseases, then by literally blowing them apart. Are the mothers of those children less likely to feel the pain and anguish of losing a child any less than we would?
There really is no reason why a society could not provide for, care for and value all children. But while human beings are prepared to accept a system that values profit and business interests before children then we can expect to go on hearing of dying children all over the world until we become so numb to the awfulness that we begin to believe that it is a natural state of affairs and accept it with no more thought than the sunrise at the start of the day.
I occasionally make notes in my diary of odd news reports; for most of us these are heard and quickly forgotten. Here are a few from early last year which perhaps exemplify how children fare under capitalism.
- Food companies have started to realise that it might be more profitable to work with groups to encourage children to eat more healthily. At present, within a short time, 90 percent of children will be obese due to junk food, lack of exercise etc. and will die 10 years earlier. Therefore food companies that produce junk food have realised that killing children is not such a good idea as if they live 10 years longer they will buy more food thus producing more profit for the companies.(BBC Radio 4 news: 2 January 2009)
- The Prince's Trust found that 10 percent of children see no reason to live and 25% are depressed. (BBC Radio 4 news: 5 January 2009)
- 1000 people were killed in Gaza; 400 of which were innocent women and children. (BBC Radio 4 news: 13 January 2009)
- Every year, in Africa, 6,000,000 children die from malnutrition before their fifth birthday. (World Bank Stats.)
- Unicef's website describes the deaths of millions of children that could easily be averted as 'baffling'.
- Food giant Nestlé actively promotes artificial infant feeding around the World, breaking the World Health Organisation's code of marketing and, in pursuit of profit, contributes to a child dying every 30 seconds as a result of unsafe bottle feeding. (www.babymilkaction.org.)
- John Simpson reported recently on BBC Radio 4 that 1,000 children a year in Falluja are being born with deformities. (One baby was born with three heads.) It is thought that they are as a result of depleted uranium left from the bombing of 2004 (when white phosphorous was used). Bombed houses were bulldozed into the river which is used for drinking water.
- 200,000 child slaves are sold every year in Africa. (Source United Nations.)
This list could go on and on. Anyway, on a brighter note (although it will be of little use to the children of India and sub-Saharan Africa), the British government are introducing 'Personal Financial Management' into the primary school national curriculum this September – may as well get them to understand the importance of profit early on in case they begin to use that innocent logic common to children and ask too many awkward questions.