A Quaker Experience
Men are supposed to be protectors of children are they not? I almost passed one in need of some protection. I caught her in my peripheral vision as I was going to church. I had thought I had seen a girl, less than 2 years of age, in a diaper and tee shirt sitting on a porch beside a busy street. As I made the turn going towards church, I thought that it was around 40 degrees out and what I saw wasn’t good. I figured that what I didn’t see was an attentive adult nearby. I figured that I was going to make it to church on time.
Then I thought some more. What attentive adult would allow a little girl to be outside in a diaper? I turned my car around.
I pulled onto the shoulder across from the porch to get a better look. Sure enough, it was a little girl in a diaper sitting on a porch next to a busy street. It was clear that there was no adult near by. The commercial building attached to the porch, did not have a single light on. It was obvious that that little girl need assistance. The only one currently providing it was a large gray cat, who was sitting next to the girl. The girl had a blank expression as she looked from side to side. The cat was still and looked only at the road.
I thought of joining the cat on the porch, but this ran the risk of frightening the girl. I knew I could be out of my car quickly if she made one move towards the road as I dialed 911. As I described the scene to the 911 dispatch to get some help, a young woman in shorts and bare feet ran from behind the building looking frantically this way and that. She spotted what she was looking for and ran to scoop her up. I told the dispatch it appeared the emergency could be downgraded, but a police officer on the scene would be greatly appreciated to investigate what just happened. One came quickly. The officer gathered my identification history and the history of what I just saw. He said that my assistance was no longer needed as he headed towards the house being the commercial building. I was just a few minutes late for church.
The church I went to was a Quaker Meeting, which is where worship under the guidance of the Religious Society of Friends occurs. The service is mainly one of sitting in silence with anyone gathered being welcomed to speak, as they are moved to do so. I was so moved, I described what I had just experienced. I related that I was troubled that I was the only person who turned around to protect that little girl. I was troubled by my thinking about there being no need for me to turn around, as of course there must have been a supervising adult near by.
I said that I was praying for all children in the world who needed more protection. I said that by my estimation this meant the vast majority of children on the planet. I said that I had no idea if my prayers did any good. I only knew that when I did so I felt closer to God, who I believed understood this state of affairs with children that I found incomprehensible.
There is much in the news speculating as to what Donald Trump thinks of the plight of children of refugees. I have no evidence that there were only Trump supporters driving by that little child on the porch that day. I have no evidence that any of those who passed by were so concerned about splitting their attention between their cell phone and the road in front of them that they didn’t even see what I saw.
Will driverless cars have side scanning cameras to detect children on porches and automatically turn around for a better view. Will responding authorities interview single parents as to their need for support and assure that they receive it from a benevolent State and National and Not-for-profit agencies.
Will paid helpers one day, thanks to the petitions signed and donations made to charities, offer adequate protection to most children? I don’t think so. I believe that this is a job for God.
Have vengeful men, compassionate men, ever offered much in the way of protection to children? I am not preaching that if a man sees a child in need by the side of the road that he just say a prayer. I am only suggesting that men who believe that in the future men will have the adequate child protective knowledge and the adequate will to act on that knowledge, think again.
No, I have no idea how much prayer is enough. I only believe that more would be helpful.
As a professional social worker, I often had the opportunity to work with child welfare caseworkers. Most of these caseworkers were women. They didn’t just try to help parents and children in an office, but in their homes. Some of these homes were the street. Many of these homes were dangerous places to visit. Any bad thing you can imagine that could be done to a child has been done. Evil things beyond your imagination too. To pray is not to take the place of action, but praying for divine intervention for the sake of children may be the only thing that is adequate to address the scope of the problem.
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