National Catholic Reporter
The Independent Newsweekly

Archives  | 

Send This Page to a Friend

 Today's Take:  NCR's daily Web column
Each weekday over the course of a week, a member of the NCR staff offers a commentary on one or more topics in the news.  It's our way of introducing you to some of the people carrying out the NCR mission of faith and justice based journalism.

April 16, 2003
Vol. 1, No. 9




global perspective Poisoning the well from which our children drink

by Sister Rita Larivee, SSA, associate publisher of NCR

I read an article yesterday about a convoy organized by the United Nations Children's Fund carrying 120,000 liters of potable water from Iran into southern Iraq. The story did not make headline news, but it's important nonetheless.

Also yesterday at a UN briefing, UNICEF made the point that water gives life, but bad water can also take life, particularly the lives of children.

Over the next few days, Christian and Jewish communities will be celebrating holy days that commemorate special events. Within these celebrations, they will use water to represent life in all its fullness. People will speak of the well from which we drink, the rainfall that nourishes the earth, the spring that brings life to everything in its path.

As I read about the water convoy, I immediately thought of the conflict between the spiritual water we have been giving our children over the past few months and the spiritual water we will attempt to provide them with over the next few days.

The children of Iraq, the United States and other countries of the world have been flooded with images of war, death, and great suffering. But unlike adults, who should have some capacity for dealing with these realities, children absorb images like a sponge, forming impressions that shape them for the rest of their lives. It doesn't matter who is right and who is wrong. Any attempt to justify the images does not in any way change the reality of the well from which our children take nourishment.

We have poisoned the well from which our children drink.

They depend on us to provide the most basic of life sustaining nourishment, but we have given them conflict, arrogance and hatred. About Iraq, the media has spoken of justice, but have said little about compassion; liberation, but have said little about tolerance and understanding; freedom, but have said little about reverence for life.

It doesn't matter the position one takes on the war, whether pacifist, hawk or dove. In the end, the overwhelming majority of us must share the blame for endangering the lives of our children. We haven't done enough to heal the wounds of a suffering world.

Our children are the future and the well from which they drink must be rich in minerals with enough to go around. These holy days are an opportunity for us to freshen the wells from which they drink. No one will print stories about this. But it's important, nonetheless. Do we organize a convoy on behalf of our children, carrying water to fill the wells, or do we leave them to suffer the consequences of our tainted ways? The choice is ours.

Top of Page   | Home
Copyright © 2003 The National Catholic Reporter Publishing  Company, 115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111 
TEL:  1-816-531-0538   FAX:  1-816-968-2280