Seeing children has a powerful effect on us. We can’t help but smile when the boys and girls sit up here in front for a few minutes. Some of us visit the children in Muskegon Heights schools. I, for one can’t help but adore their dark faces, the tight braids in the girls’ hair, and I feel a thrill inside when a third grader steps close to ask me for some help. We have our own children, our grandchildren, our nephews, our nieces, our students. We want nothing more than their happiness.

All the boys and girls—they are wonderful—always naïve, always curious, always changing.

What kind of society will we make for them?
What kind of earth will we leave for them?
What will we teach them?
How will we make the world a safe place for them?

And when they reach what we call adulthood—
Will they know how to think critically?
Will they know that they are the stewards of the earth?
Will they know the immense value of their own dreams?
Will they know that no one stands alone? That we are all intertwined?

How these questions will be answered is partly up to us. And we do our best for our own children— to teach them, to care for them, and advocate for them.

But, I wonder, aren’t all children our children? The world is so small.

Right now, tens of millions of the world’s children are refugees. A few days ago, I clicked a link in Facebook to an article about Syrian refugees. It was unbearable to look at all the pictures and to read it in its entirety, so I was scrolling past several photographs of destruction when the third photo stopped me. It was a street in the Yarmouk Refugee Camp, in Damascus, Syria. In the street, between completely bombed out buildings, like a river flooding over its banks, were thousands of people, some in the street, some washing up on the ruble from bombed buildings, all waiting in a great mass to receive food. Scarcely visible between the adults were hundreds and hundreds of children.

Unfortunately, we cannot reach out to each child, but we can do this for all the children—

We can hold in our minds these images: the children gathered here a few minutes ago; boys and girls in Muskegon Heights; the faces in the refugee camps; and of course, the images of our own children and grand children.

We can feel the compassion these images bring, and remember the glorious possibility that lives in each child. When we care for a grandchild, when we have a chance to teach, or when we pass a child in the super market, those images and those feelings can only increase the love we already have.

And when we talk to others about children; when we work for better schools; when we vote; and when we reach out to helping organizations—we will know what to say and what to do—
if only we continue to see all the children in our minds and hearts.

The lover of children deep in me honors the lover of children deep in you. Namaste.