I wasn’t thinking of children when the tough-times reports first came out. I was shocked when President Bush said our economy could fail if we did not bolster the banks, and then-candidate Barack Obama agreed with him. ‘Things must be far worse than we know,’ I thought, but any effect this would have on children never crossed my mind.
Unemployment is twelve percent in our state, over fifty percent in the construction fields. When people began to lose their jobs and families, their homes, by the thousands, I began to think about the effects on children: Will their parents be able to find work again soon? Will they go hungry? How will they find a new place to live without a job, an income? Will they, God forbid, have to live in boxes by the river with their parents? It is raining hard here tonight. And their pets: When we lost our home due to my illness, I was blessed to find an apartment where we could keep our Akita-mix, Max, but many people have not been so lucky and some have abandoned their pets on the sides of roads. Shelter cages are full of dogs and cats.
Hard times are escalating and more and more apartments are filling up here. We hear so many children crying now, a lot . . . It is such a shock to move from what had been your home to a small apartment where people live above you and below you and all around you, with the sounds of every toilet flush or shower or family fight shared with neighbors.
Once when people gathered around a threatening black man and a Hispanic man with three young children still in his car, I called the police when he reached in and pulled out a bat; and when a woman took what looked like a small rifle out of the trunk of her car and aimed it at a group of teens who had been calling her Lesbian slurs. Her son is overweight, unlike most of the children here who are the opposite. Adults in the family formerly living across the hall from us often left their young-teen children home alone for days at a time, without enough food to last for the duration. These kids became really thin and had stopped going to school before they moved.
When life gets hard for parents, it gets really hard for their kids. Loss of work and loss of home equals lots of parental red-faced screaming, jerking kids by their arms, slapping them, spankings (or worse, as I have witnessed) and the subsequent crying and screaming of the children we can hear on our walks, or in the hallway, or through the walls.
What long-term effects will these hard times have on the children? Children are resilient, so I remain hopeful. Still, times are tough, and all the children of the world need our sincere, committed prayers to better survive these difficult times, whether they are due to disillusioned, distressed parents, poverty, war, or an earthquake or tsunami. Our prayers are needed and the Good Lord, who did not create the problems of the world (we did) is overjoyed to hear our requests for intervention, and to beam loving responses back to us and the planet. It takes only a moment to stop, take a deep breath, close our eyes and say or think, ‘Lord, I am praying for all the children of the world. Help us. Thank you. Amen.’