As even the most casual observer takes a look at our global societies, it can be seen that there remains a terrible shortage of care and protection for the most vulnerable of our species, our children.
In the UK, for example, schools are still being closed as the number of children increases. In 2012, there were 813,000 births in the UK, the highest ever (although as a percentage of the population it shows a decrease). Class sizes are growing. Hospitals are closing and therefore the medical resources available to children are decreasing. Child poverty in the UK is substantial. Child abuse is everywhere, from areas of social deprivation to the monied circles of the political classes and the Entertainment Industry.
Although it could be argued that the individual facilities that exist today are better in general than those of 100 years ago, can that be used as a defence for the fact that our societies are not progressing in the way that should be expected from a supposedly civilized species?
(if even one child ends up like this, then that is a sad reflection upon our entire species)
In 1221, the forces of Genghis Khan laid siege to the city of Urgench. They were reputed to have slaughtered more than 1 million people there, including tens of thousands of children.
In 1845, the British government had marginalized their Irish subjects, particularly in the west of the island. When the potato crop failed, the peasantry were abandoned by the government and more than 1 million died, including tens of thousands of children.
In the 1940’s, the Nazi regime is said to have massacred close to 1 million children during the Holocaust. The US Empire were responsible for civilian carnage in Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki in which tens of thousands of children perished.
The point of highlighting these episodes is to demonstrate that Homo Sapiens, as a species, has not evolved to a state where our societies regard the lives of children as sacrosanct. Our species, though it claims the title ‘civilized’, can be seen to be extremely brutal and even sociopathic in its dealings with larger groups of our young. There are also individuals who perpetrate the most horrendous harm upon children, in a sick existence that confers upon the paedophile the well-earned status of most base and unnecessary life-form on the planet.
If we take even a cursory look at some other animal species, we can see how Homo Sapiens falls short.
Elephants live in matriarchal societies. The females stand together and raise the children in a communal effort. The herd takes turns watching over the babies, being referred to as ‘Allmothers’. Their system allows the mother to eat and gain strength, so that she can better suckle and protect her child.
Should there be a danger to the young then the entire herd form a protective circle, keeping the babies in the centre. The safety of the group’s offspring takes priority, regardless of whether or not the adult female has any young of her own.
The sea lions of the Galápagos Islands have a similar system. Groups of up to 30 mothers congregate under the protection of a single male. The females run a cooperative society where everyone has enough time to feed, also allowing the young an opportunity to play and learn skills that will help them survive.
The mothers run a ‘nursery pool’ where they can leave their young to be watched over by others in a rotating cycle of carers. Perhaps these particular examples point to the positive roles that mothers can have when given responsibility for running societies.
Ants and Bees also operate a communal system designed to ensure the survival of the young. They will fight to the death to protect future generations.
In human societies, there are of course those who fight for the protection of children. However, no other species, as a whole, has ever perpetrated the levels of destruction and death upon their offspring that the young of Homo Sapiens suffer. It is an extraordinary comment upon us that we are less caring as a species, towards our offspring, than elephants and ants.
Yet, it is obvious that the future of humanity depends upon our young. Societies of tomorrow are shaped by the children of today. Should those children be abandoned, or treated poorly, then they will mature as adults with negative tendencies. Criminal behaviour is rife in areas of social deprivation, not because the children are born bad in those localities, but because the communities there have little to offer.
When children mature into a world of little opportunity, they become adults who must fight to survive. They compete for meagre resources. Yet there is always enough. The problems of want are not caused by a lack of food, or medicine, or shelter. The problems of human need are caused by unfair distribution.
‘It can be seen that every adult who emerges with a behavioral problem, mental health issue or an avoidable physical disability, is a symptom of the failures of the society that produced them. No child is born bad. They are made bad by poor governance and community.’
Today, billions of pounds and dollars are squandered in inventing ever more effective means of destroying other humans. If, instead, that money was used to improve the lives of our youngest, then the rewards in the future would be immeasurable.
Childcentric societies appear to be the most obvious way for our species to evolve and move towards that so-far elusive dream of a Utopian global society. Putting our energies into the raising of our children will ensure that less effort will be required in the future. Gains are easier to maintain than acquire.
If, when governments are allocating funds from their annual budgets, they choose to first ensure that the children of the state have all they need, before going on to divide up the rest, our countries would be much better off. It may sting a little in the short-term, but eventually the benefits would become immense.
This all seems like common sense. Yet, as was demonstrated at the top of this piece, our societies have not evolved in this manner. Nuclear weapons, biological weapons, chemicals weapons, white phosphorous, napalm, missiles and artillery have all sought to enable us to kill more of our kind than ever. The facts are there for us to see. We have remained static as regards the place of children in the psychology of our species. There does not seem to be the collective will to break the negative and frighteningly vicious circle that we are caught in.
This Carousel of Childhood Cruelty must be smashed.
It will only be when we fully embrace Childcentricity that humanity will find itself worthy of the name.
– If you care, give it a share –