Year of the child
Here on the Olson Ranch this year would almost have to be considered The Year of the Child. It was only a little over a year ago when my new book was published. Titled “Papa,” it was, to a large extent, about a guy trying to figure out what matters when all of a sudden he becomes a grandfather for the first time, making hope and fear for the future a concrete thing. And then in the space of just a few months, we went from one grandchild to four, a dizzying, joyous experience I'm still trying to fully grasp. In the middle of the year, we committed a lot of time and energy to the United Methodist project, Imagine No Malaria, a fund-raising campaign committed to eliminating malaria in Africa, where, not coincidentally, 85% of the people who die from that disease are children under the age of five. To finish out the year on a consistent theme, we spent some time in the mountains of Haiti, helping a group of people with a project that will provide educations and opportunities for some very worthy, endearing children.
As I sit writing this, I am deeply in the Season of the Child. That's what this is, you know. We call it lots of things. As a country, we even have fights about whether we should say “Merry Christmas” vs “Happy Holidays.” We talk about shopping being a boost to the economy and we have competitions for lights, decorations - even the size of our Santa bellies. And none of that really matters very much at all. We may say that the holiday is all about the children, but, really, it's all about The Child.
Of course, that concept shouldn't be a problem. Because to honor the child, we need to save the children.
You know, I have kind of a deal with myself, my editors and, I suppose, my readers. Week after week, my columns come in at around 500 words. Any shorter and people might not think I'm worth what I'm getting paid. Much longer and...well, there's a limit to how much “me” anyone needs. But this one really didn't need to be longer than ten words and most of you would have gotten it. To honor the child, we need to save the children.
I'm not a theologian, not a scholar. I've never taken a philosophy class and I wouldn't dare get in a Scripture quoting contest with even a mediocre confirmation student, but on this point I am completely confident. We honor the child by saving the children. The season isn't about suet pudding, video games, velvet dresses or champagne on New Years. We can quibble about methods, priorities, funding and who does what. We don't have to agree on everything, we'll never agree on everything. But we have to agree on some things or we don't have a functioning society anymore. Our future – not to mention our souls – will be in jeopardy.
We honor the child by saving the children. There's so much to do, but if we choose to do nothing, nothing else we do will matter much at all.
Copyright 2011 Brent Olson