suffer the little children

While spoon feeding my thirteen-year-old son his lunch on a day he stayed home from school due to seizures, I watched a new documentary called Newtown. I wept through most of it, listening to the harrowing 911 calls from terrified victims hiding in offices and closets during what must have felt like an eternity of bullets spraying the halls. I remember the December day the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre happened a few years ago, remember thinking of those little bodies the size of my own son being shredded by bullets shot from an assault rifle in the hands of a disturbed young man of twenty. 

Had he shot one child for every year he languished on this earth?

Yesterday, I saw more haunting video of dead Syrian children, victims of an Assad chemical weapon attack on his own people. One man lost twenty-five family members, including his wife and infant twins, whom he held in his arms. Rows of lifeless children filled the back of a pickup, their eyes open and blank, their skin ashen, their chests bare from being hosed down in a vain attempt to save them. They didn't stand a chance.

And though I know the saying doesn’t mean what it sounds like, I still think to myself, suffer the little children. And then I wonder, why?

As dawn came, I laid next to my boy and I heard the morning doves coo. All the birds—the chickadees and jays and cardinals and catbirds and sparrows and crows—are beginning to go crazy now that the snow has almost melted and the purple spears of crocuses are beginning to shoot through. Lying there, I wondered whether, if the world’s leaders were replaced with women—no more an absurd idea than a world led by mostly men—there would be so much warring and genocide and rape and guns and bombs and atrocities between neighbors, tribes and nations. I wondered if female leaders would care more about Mother Earth. I wondered if, under female stewardship, the world’s children, rather than be made into child warriors and brides, would be fed and clothed and housed and educated and empowered and cared for. I wondered if, under female rule, we’d be fearing nuclear war and rising sea levels and air and water pollution like we do. I wondered if our children would be deprived life-saving medicines and a chance to live up to their potential in the world. 

Suffer the little children; they’ll be the ones who must live in this crumbling, power-hungry, greedy, misogynistic, patriarchal, intolerant world.

A man carries the body of a dead child, after what rescue workers described as a suspected gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria. Reuters/Ammar Abdullah

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