“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.” - Henry David Thoreau
Opinion: Booksellers vs. Bestsellers
by Jamie Lutton
- The Capitol Hill Times -
Children are still seen as the property of their parents, and of the state. This is why, if a parent is abusive, children can still be returned to them if the parents make vague promises to improve. We have read the tragic results of this policy. The state offers few refuges for women with children fleeing from abusive husbands or boyfriends.
Children have no rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, really, until they are 18 years old. Many children have to run an obstacle course to survive to that age.
Children of drunks, which are legion, drug addicts, and the insane as well are in the greatest risk, but the state seems to turn a blind eye to them and their suffering. A child has to show up with visible bruises repeatedly at public school before, perhaps, there is an intervention. This varies from state to state, of course.
Our system does not work well because we are burdened by a religious system that dictates that men own their wives and their children, and the state owns us all.
Only in the American Constitution, and a few derived from it, do human rights stand alone, and the state is firmly put in its place, as the servant rather than owner of humanity.
Still, human rights for children lag behind those of women. Children are murdered, battered and abused daily, and the state puts the rights of the parents’ ahead of those of the child. This is partly because children, except in agricultural areas, are now a burden to raise and educate.
Before the Industrial Revolution, parents invested in their children so they could one day support the family. As children matured and married, they were assumed to take in and care for their parents. Social security did not exist until the 20th century. As humanity turned from living on farms or running small industries, and the state took over the care of the elderly, more or less, children became a financial burden. And everyone began to live longer. Instead of living to be 50, people were living to 70, 75, even 80 years.
In this complicated and messy change that happened in the last 250 years, a new question emerged: Who owns the children? The State? The parents? Or do children own themselves?
Now, we need to reshape the old models that do not work very well.
I was the daughter of two drunks, and I can testify that my human rights were violated by a volatile and violent mother. I can empathize and say that the gays and lesbians who are born to ignorant or violent families need to be protected. In other nations, girls are mutilated sexually and killed for not being valuable and denied education. Children are treated as chattel or property by their parents and their governments.
We have just begun to change the world, but what sort of world will we have when all humans have rights and are protected? It will be as much a miracle as the gadgets of the early 21st century would be to someone in the 1700s.
We must not forget our own childhoods. I acknowledge Dan Savage’s efforts through “It Gets Better” to give hope to gay and lesbian teenagers. I would like to see a similar website for the children of alcoholic and drug addicted parents so they, too, would know it gets better.
Lastly, we must not forget the suffering of gays and lesbians in Russia, who now have become second-class citizens. This could be our finest hour. America and the West need to go to the United Nations and protest mightily the treatment of gays and lesbians in Russia.
We must not go back.