CARYL STERN: On Universal Children's Day
“Whenever I held my newborn baby in my arms, I used to think that what I said and did to him could have an influence not only on him but on all whom he met, not only for a day or a month or a year, but for all eternity...”
If nurtured, enriched and encouraged, there is no limit to what our children can achieve, solve or invent in their lifetimes. Along the way, they will touch and inspire countless others, further extending good ideas and a willingness to help. This is universally true, whether a baby is born in Afghanistan, Mozambique or the United States.
Recently, the world symbolically commemorated the birth of its 7 billionth resident. In cities around the world, unsuspecting newborns became media stars as reporters clamored to identify a live, local symbol of this global milestone.
I noticed that much of the media coverage about the swelling of our population was quick to point out threats and challenges those born today are likely to inherit. By most accounts, these included environmental challenges; food and water security; human rights abuses; disease; sustained conflict and widespread economic disparity and volatility.
The challenges facing us are indeed formidable, but on this day, I ask us to contemplate children as more than bearers of future burdens. Let’s celebrate their existence! Let's celebrate their optimism, enthusiasm and innocence. And let's challenge ourselves, as Rose Kennedy did, to be sure that our thoughts, words and actions befit their magnificence and help them to thrive. If we listen to them and invest in them, they will propel us into a safer, healthier and more peaceful existence.
It’s been said that the wellbeing of children is the most universally cherished aspiration of humankind. On Universal Children’s Day we can recommit to that which most everyone, regardless of political, religious, geographic, economic, or ethnic divides can agree upon: the universal sanctity of childhood.