There was a lot of clutter noise in the world this week: pampered American Olympic swimmers behaving badly in Brazil (and lying about it,) political noise so consistently childish that most of us hoped the Olympics would drown it out for a blessed while, firestorms in the west and dust storms in Arizona, flooding in Louisiana.
And buried beneath this global noise, news surfaced –at first far from the front page and the international press corps convened in Rio—news from the four and five-year-old world.
His five-year old face stares out beneath a mask of blood. He is obviously in shock, past crying, rescued after an hour of digging to free him from his Syrian home turned rubble by bombing. His face looks unsure . . . as if his deliverance into a world gone war-mad might not be such a good thing after all.
Omran. You break our hearts. You are too young to carry the weight of our insane adult world on your small dust and blood covered shoulders! We cry out for the children of the world caught up in our adult hatred and wars. Oh God! Omran is every child. We want to take him in our arms as if he were our own and comfort him. We want his innocence restored. We want him safe and protected. Still, I thank God for giving us this image. Omran, stunned and covered in blood, woke us up to the fragility of a child’s life in a war zone.
Then a friend, Pastor Shawn Thornton, sent me this news report. The headline from the Washington Post shouts domestic evil if ever I’ve seen one: A 4-year-old found beaten and abused said she thought her name was ‘Idiot,’ according to police.
Covered in bruises, a black eye and ligature marks on her wrist from being zip-tied for punishment, this little girl suffered unspeakable abuse at the hands of her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. When this wounded child was asked by police her name she actually told them, “Idiot.”
The boyfriend said he thought calling her Idiot was a joke.
In 2012 child protective services report 3.4 million children were abused or neglected. 80 percent of the perpetrators were parents.
Oh God! This is the American child. A vulnerable little girl (not much more than a baby) in the merciless hands of sadists, awakens us to her unthinkable every day horrors. We want to rename her Cherish, or Precious or Jewel. We know this child. She is a neighbor, a school mate; the child we sometimes suspect is not OK at home, the child attending an Awana club with a friend.
That’s the sad, sad news from the four and five-year-old world. The world should pay more attention. It should care more and stop the madness that costs thousands of children’s lives or well-being.
The news from the four and five -year-old world this week was not good. But if we are paying attention it will drive us to our knees. It is a week to say a prayer, to cry a tear. It is a week to take the disgust, anger and repulsion you feel and reach out to a child in need somewhere in the world or right next door.