Saturday, 15 December 2012

In Praise of Children - Liz Kessler

I spent the last couple of days writing a post for this blog. It was jolly and fun and hopefully entertaining. But after yesterday's news about a horrific and heartbreaking shooting in an American school, I couldn't help feeling that a blog written today should have a different focus.

I write books for children. I write about mermaids and fairies and time travel and pirate dogs. Mostly, though, I write about family and friendship and love and loyalty. These are the things that are important to me. I believe that these are the things that are important to most of us. In one afternoon, in an elementary school in America, at least twenty families have had all of these things taken away from them, by a young man with a gun.

At the time of writing this, there aren't many facts available about the background to any of this, so I can't comment on that. I'm not going to get into the politics of it either – although, if I wanted to, it would be just one simple sentence: America – do something about your gun laws now.

So what do I want to say? I suppose I want to reflect on what kind of a world we live in – what kind of a world we have created. And I want to ask whether it's possible for us to do something about this.

The night before last, I watched a Panorama programme about homelessness in the UK. I thought the same thing then. Innocent children who haven't had a chance yet to make any mark on this world are in situations where they're losing something that so many of us take for granted. Their homes. Yesterday, twenty children had their entire lives taken away from them.  And in recent months, we have all heard the appalling stories that have come to light about Jimmy Savile and others who stole hundreds of children's innocence and blighted their lives forever.

We live in a world where space travel is taken for granted, where lives are saved with incredible medicines or operations, where with the touch of a few buttons we can talk to and even see someone on the other side of the planet. We live in - we have created - a world where unbelievable things are possible.

With all this intelligence, how have we not managed to create a world in which our children are safe?

As a children's author, I am quite often asked if I would ever think about writing books for adults. Right now, I can't help thinking – why would I want to do that? Adults are the ones who harm. Adults are the ones who damage. Adults are the ones who should know better.

Children are the ones who see things as they are. Who see the beauty and simplicity and excitement and innocence and incredible potential of this world.

At this moment, I am proud of my job. It is about celebrating childhood – and right now I can't think of anything more worthy of celebration and protection than childhood.

I'm not a parent, but if I was, tonight I would hug my children that little bit tighter. I'm not religious, but tonight I will take my chances and ask God to look after the twenty innocent children who were ripped from this world when their lives had barely begun. 

And I will ask us as a society to grieve for their families, to be thankful for our own and to do everything we can each do in our own way to create a world that is worthy of all of the gifts, riches and knowledge that we have.


Jane McLoughlin said...

Have been thinking about your comments which were expressed in brief tweet form. Thanks for writing and sharing this.

catdownunder said...

One of my nephews came in an hugged me today - he's 26. Another phoned "just to say I love you". Others, who live in other states "checked in" something they never usually do on a busy Saturday.
The 12yr old "Whirlwind", the child I take a special interest in, came to me in a very distressed state and said,
"I just need to hug you too". She had already hugged her father, her sole parent.
I hugged all of them back in reality and virtually.
It made me realise how very, very fortunate most of us are. I just cannot comprehend the grief those directly involved must be going through - and will go through for weeks, months and years.
Hugs are so much better than hate - and, if we must fight wars, let's do it with words, not weapons.

JO said...

I find it impossible to find words for my response to this dreadful shooting - so thank you for this. There will be an inquiry, and people will look for someone or something to blame. I feel all I can do is make sure that those I love know how I feel about them - and that love is precious and we must cherish it.

Linda said...

Beautiful - you've expressed what so many of us are feeling.

Katherine Langrish said...

Thankyou Liz.

Alex Dumpfree said...

Thanks for writing and sharing this blog. It is so beautiful you've expressed what feeling.

Lucy Coats said...

Thank you, Liz. Just...thank you.

Lynn said...

Thank you for a moving, heartfelt post.

Stroppy Author said...

Thank you, Liz.